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Federer Defeats Rival Nadal To Win Fifth Title At Season Finale

London, England

Roger Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer roars in delight after winning his fifth title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

World No. 2 Roger Federer won his fifth title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday when he defeated Rafael Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in a gripping finale at The O2 in London.

The Swiss also won the coveted year-end championships in 2003 (d. Agassi) and 2004 (d. Hewitt) in Houston and again in 2006 (d. Blake) and 2007 (d. Ferrer) in Shanghai. He was also the runner-up in 2005 and has compiled a staggering 34-7 event record. He is the third player in the tournament’s 41-year history to win the title five times, joining Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.

As the undefeated champion of the world’s biggest indoor tennis tournament, Federer received 1,500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and the maximum amount of $1,630,000 in prize money.  It is the fourth time that he has been crowned the undefeated champion at the season finale, having dropped only one set this week.

It was the first time for 24 years that the Top 2 players on the ATP World Tour had contested the title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In 1986, No. 1 Ivan Lendl defeated No. 2 Boris Becker. Federer recorded his eighth win in 22 career meetings with Nadal (Nadal leads 14-8); he also defeated the Spaniard at the season finale in the semi-finals in 2006 and 2007. He came into the match having lost six of his past seven matches with the Spaniard.

"I always believed in a plan from start to finish," said Federer. "Like at the first match I came out and played against [David] Ferrer, I think I always stayed true to how I wanted to play. It was the same thing today. Even though I lost the second set, I'm really happy the way I stayed positive throughout the match today. I thought it was clearly a very high level. I don't know if I could have played any better, so I'm really pleased.

"It was interesting the way he played. But I stayed offensive. I knew in the long run that could be vital, which it was at the end, so I'm very happy."

Nadal was full of praise for the Swiss. "He played unbelievable," said the Spaniard. "He was unplayable I think in this first set. I just can congratulate him for his victory and another great tournament for him. He played unbelievable during all the week without losing a set, being in the final. So his level was very high. I tried my best this afternoon, but he was better than me."

Such was the excitement surrounding a Federer-Nadal finale at The O2 that the 17,500 Centre Court crowd featured many celebrities, including footballing legend Diego Maradona, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, American actor Kevin Spacey, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York.

Federer struck the first blow in the contest, breaking serve with an angled backhand winner crosscourt to lead 5-3 in the first set. After conceding the opener, Nadal fought back strongly, breaking serve in the fourth game of the second set before going on to level the match with a sliced backhand past the net-rushing Federer. The Spaniard was powerless against Federer’s brilliance in the final set, though, and the Swiss broke serve twice to seal victory in one hour and 37 minutes.

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The 29-year-old Federer came into the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on a red-hot run of form that had seen him lose just two matches since squandering two match points in a five-set defeat to Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals. His 21 victories since then is the highest number of wins he has ever recorded post the US Open.

The Basel native won his fifth tour-level title of the year, and the 66th of his career. By winning his 16th Grand Slam singles crown at the Australian Open (d. Murray) in January, Federer opened and closed his season with two of the game’s biggest titles for the fourth time. He also bookended his 2004, 2006 and 2007 seasons with victories at the Australian Open and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer’s three other titles this season came at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati (d. Fish), the If Stockholm Open (d. Mayer) and the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. Djokovic). He closes 2010 with a 65-13 match record and will finish in the Top 2 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for a record eighth-straight year.

NadalThe 24-year-old Nadal commented before the tournament that it would be tougher for him to win the season finale than to win a Grand Slam championship, and it proved to be the case for the left-hander, despite an unbeaten run to his first final. In the semi-finals he contested one of the best matches of the season with British favourite Andy Murray, before prevailing in a third-set tie-break.

Defeat in the final for Nadal brings the curtain down on what has been one of the finest seasons by any player in the Open Era (since 1968). The Mallorcan has won seven tour-level titles from nine finals, with his triumphs including three successive Grand Slam championships at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, and a clean sweep of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments. He closes with a 71-10 match record.

The total attendance for the tournament was 253,123.

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