Federer, Safina win Madrid titles
MADRID: Roger Federer defeated world No 1 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4 to win the Madrid Masters today to strike a timely early blow in his campaign to lift an elusive French Open.
His win ended a five-match losing streak against the Spaniard, a run which included three Grand Slam finals and ended Nadal's 33-match winning streak on clay, a run stretching back over a year to the Rome second round in 2008.
Federer fired two aces, his fifth and sixth of the afternoon to wrap up the victory and lift his record in finals against his Spanish rival to 5-11. Federer heads into the French Open starting in a week with a huge confidence boost after finally defeating the rival who stripped him of his Wimbledon title last summer.
Nadal, who had won claycourt titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome this spring, was visibly jaded from his semi-final on Saturday when he needed over four hours to defeat Novak Djokovic.
Meanwhile, Dinara Safina beat Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 to win the women's title. The top-ranked Russian player goes into the French Open with two straight clay titles following last week's victory in Rome. Safina overpowered her 18-year-old opponent with 24 winners and three break points. It is Safina's 11th career title.
Wozniacki, facing a top-ranked player for the first time, will become the first Dane to crack the top-10 in next week's rankings after reaching her third final of the season. Safina will go into Roland Garros buoyed by her recent success on clay after finishing runner-up at the Australian Open and Stuttgart earlier this year.
She got off to a quick start against her younger opponent, who she was playing for the first time, scoring a break in the third game after both held serve to start. Another break proved enough for her to take the first set.
Wozniacki, who hadn't dropped a set in reaching the final, hit a forehand long to be broken again at the start of the second and then could only watch as Safina slammed a two-handed backhand down the line for 2-0. Wozniacki had Safina scrambling and looked set to clinch her first break point in the fourth game, but was lobbed after coming to the net. Safina then took a 3-1 lead when Wozniacki hit the ball out.
In the eighth game of the set, Wozniacki set up three of her five break chances with some delicate drop shots, but her good work was undone by several of her 22 unforced errors. Safina is now 14-1 on clay this season.