Nadal beats Federer to take sixth French open title

Rafael Nadal equalled Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles with a 7-5 7-6 (7/3) 5-7 6-1 victory over Roger Federer in another titanic final between arguably the two best players the game has ever seen.

The momentum swung one way then the other like a pendulum, but although Federer threatened a stunning comeback, Nadal stepped things up again in the fourth set to seal victory on his first match point after three hours and 40 minutes.

The start was a surprise as a nervy Nadal, who had beaten his rival in three previous finals here, returned to something like the form he had shown in the first week as Federer raced into a 3-0 lead.

The Spaniard, who needed to win to prevent Novak Djokovic becoming number one in the world, quickly snapped out of it and began to fire on his forehand but Federer was relentless in his attacking and he brought up a set point with Nadal serving at 2-5.

Had he taken it the outcome of the match may have been very different but a drop shot landed just wide.

Nadal sensed this was his opportunity and, having not threatened the Federer serve until that point, he unleashed a trademark forehand to take his first break point, before breaking again in his opponent's next service game.

The match-up of styles has always been in Nadal's favour, with his high topspin causing a particular problem for Federer's one-handed backhand, and the Spaniard tightened his grip with another break in the opening game of the second set.

Nadal was now playing superbly and, although Federer stopped the rot after losing seven games in a row, he just could not match his level.

Gradually he fought his way back in, though, and after saving break points in the fifth game, he broke back for 4-4 as his rival threw in a rare error.

Thunder rumbled in the background as Federer fought to move in front for the first time in the set but he could not manage it, Nadal breaking again as a backhand from the Swiss landed wide.

That left the top seed serving for the set but there was more drama to come, and this time it was not all on the court. Nadal let one set point slip away and a sudden downpour meant play had to be suspended with the score at deuce.

It was the first rain break of the whole tournament but fortunately it was very brief. Federer knew it was now or never and, after saving a second set point, he broke again.

Both men then held serve to force a huge tie-break. Federer needed it, Nadal wanted it, and it was the Spaniard who managed to hold his nerve, winning the first four points and going on to take it 7-3.

It was surely an impossible task now and it looked even more so when Federer was broken to love in the sixth game of the third set only for the 29-year-old to show there was still some fight left by responding in kind.

When the Swiss played his best tennis, it was difficult to see how he could be losing the match, but 56 unforced errors told their own story against the game's most relentless opponent.

There were none of those in the 11th game, though, as Federer raced to 0-40, and he took the second break point to a huge roar. It must have seemed a long time since he served for the first set but this time there was no twist.

Nadal was still a heavy favourite, although the odds lengthened somewhat when Federer promptly created three break points at the start of the fourth set.

The Spaniard saved them all, and from then on he did not look back. Federer held for 1-1 but he was broken to love in the fourth game and then some more Nadal magic took him to within one game of victory, which he clinched when the Swiss fired a forehand long.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...