July 9, 2006

Federer moves 6-0 7-6 ahead v Nadal

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - World number one Roger Federer edged
close to a fourth Wimbledon title on Sunday, opening a 6-0 7-6
lead against Spain's Rafael Nadal in the final.

The Swiss, looking to become only the third man to win four
straight titles here in the professional era, blazed through
the first set in 24 minutes but was given a scrap in the

Federer took out the frustration of his French Open final
defeat by Nadal in devastating fashion as he became the first
man since Boris Becker in 1989 to win the opening set of a
men's final 6-0.

Nadal had won 80 consecutive service games at Wimbledon en
route to the final, but that sequence ended when Federer
connected sweetly with a running forehand to break serve at the
first time of asking.

For once the 20-year-old Nadal looked overawed as he
struggled for timing on his heavy topspin groundstrokes and a
rampant Federer broke again to lead 4-0.

Nadal saved a set point with a brilliant lob volley at 0-5
and another with his first ace, but Federer made sure at the
third attempt with an exquisite backhand pass.


Thoughts of a Center Court humiliation for Nadal, the
youngest men's finalist since Becker in 1986, soon disappeared
though as he finally exploded into life.

A pummeled backhand winner gave him a break point at the
start of the second set and Federer then miss-hit a forehand
wide, prompting a trademark bicep-bulging fist pump and roar of
"Vamos" from Nadal.

Federer suddenly knew he was in a match and responded by
carving out a break point in the fourth game, only to send a
backhand over the baseline. Nadal consolidated his two-game
lead with an ace.

Nadal, who lost the first set of the French Open final 6-1,
began to dominate the rallies from the baseline and it was
Federer's turn to look anxious as Nadal moved 5-3 ahead.

Serving for the set at 5-4, however, Nadal served a double
fault at 15-30 and then looped a forehand out to gift Federer a
way back into the set.

An angry Nadal regained his composure to take the set into
a tiebreak, in which he got the first mini-break.

Three forehand errors from Nadal gave the momentum back to
Federer as the Swiss won five points in a row to move 6-3

Nadal clawed it back to 6-5 with a drop volley and backhand
into the net from his opponent, but Federer shouted out with
relief when another Nadal forehand nestled in the net.