Federer downs Henman to win Japan Open

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer took advantage of some costly mistakes by Tim Henman yesterday to win his first Japan Open.

Top-ranked Federer coasted to a 6-3, 6-3 win over 10th-seeded Henman, who struggled with his serve in windy conditions at Tokyo's Ariake Colosseum.

Henman conceded three straight double faults to allow Federer to take a 4-2 lead in the first set, which the Swiss star closed out with an ace.

"When he served three double faults, that just gave me the first set," said Federer. "It was hard for him after the three double faults because if you want to win you just can't do that."

Federer, playing in his first tournament since winning last month's US Open, broke Henman again to take a 2-1 lead in the second set and was never seriously challenged before wrapping the match up in 1 hour and 7 minutes.

"It wasn't easy today," said Henman, who conceded six double faults throughout the match. "The wind was a factor and I had trouble with my serve, but his ability to hit passing shots so well and consistently is what makes it so difficult. He was just too good."

As in Saturday's semifinal win over Benjamin Becker, Federer made several brilliant shots that excited the crowd and put Henman on the defensive.

"I was able to come up with some great passing shots at the right time," said Federer, who will next contest the ATP Masters Series in Madrid.

Federer ground out a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3) quarterfinals victory over Takao Suzuki on Friday, and credited his game against the Japanese wild card as key to Sunday's title win.

"I got lucky against Suzuki," said Federer. "I could have lost that match easily but I came through and that gave me a boost."

Federer was playing in his first tournament in Japan and said he hopes to return next year.

"It's been a great year so far," said Federer, who has three season Grand Slam titles. "To come here for the first time and win this tournament is a great feeling. I hope to come back next year and defend the title."

The 32-year-old Henman had not reached a top tier ATP final since Indian Wells in 2004 and his ranking has dropped from a career-high No. 4 in 2002 to No. 55.

Henman said reaching the final in Tokyo will give his game a boost.

"I'm not the first player to lose to Roger in the final and I won't be the last," he said. "It's a great week for me to be back in the final of a big tournament. To reach the final helps with both my confidence and ranking."

In the women's final, top-seeded Marion Bartoli of France rallied to defeat Japan's Aiko Nakamura 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

After a shaky start, Bartoli quickly recovered and cruised to a win over the Japanese wild card for her first Japan Open title.

"It's always nice to win when you are the top seed," said Bartoli. "I had to play hard and stay focused after dropping the first set."

Nakamura was playing in her first WTA final after defeating Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan in the semifinals.