Nadal sweeps Federer to claim historic Monte Carlo poker

Rafael Nadal swept seven of the last eight games to become the first man in nearly a century to claim four titles in a row at the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday, dpa reported.

The Spanish king of clay's 7-5, 7-5 defeat of number one Roger Federer sent the world number two to his 24th title over all and 19th on clay.

Nadal made history by winning his fourth straight in the principality, the first to do that since New Zealander Anthony Wilding from 1911-1914.

"This is the best I can play, this is something unimaginable," said the Spaniard. "For me, this is the best tournament in the world."

Nadal now stands an impressive 6- 1 in clay court finals against Federer.

For Federer, who failed to capitalise on a double-break for 4- 0 in the second set, his record against his hottest rival falls to six wins, nine defeats.

"It's like this every time," said the resigned Swiss, a 12-time Grand Slam champion. "Rafa played great, congratulations.

"I was within two points of losing in my first match (against a Spaniard) so it was good to get to the final

"This has been a good week on clay for me anyway, it's always special to play here."

Federer came to the court after winning last weekend's Estoril trophy to start his clay campaign. He and Nadal have both lifted their first titles of the season in the space of eight days.

The Swiss will train next week in preparation for the Rome Masters while Nadal headlines in Barcelona on the ATP - where he is also seeking an unprecedented fourth straight crown on the clay of the Real club.

Federer stands 20-5 on a season which began for him with a case of glandular fever while Nadal improved to 27-6.

In the first set, Federer twice broke for leads only to have Nadal pull him back. The Swiss began with a break in the opening game but produced an untimely return long to drop his own serve just moments later for 1-1.

In the seventh game, the top seed again went ahead, earning three break points and converting on the second form the Spaniard's return over the baseline.

But a game later Federer was caught out by a net cord which passed him by to put Nadal back on 4-all level pegging.

The Swiss top seed saved himself in the 10th game after nearly losing a 40-0 lead, applying a volley winner and almost untouchable serve to lift to 5-5.

Nadal answered with a love game to again ratchet up the pressure, striking for the set with a another break when the Swiss put over a weak approach which the Spaniard pounced on with a backhand cross-court winner.

Federer dropped into a hole after 20 unforced errors and 52 minutes with ground to make up.

The Swiss against established a lead with a break to start the second set, but managed to hold it as he reached 2-0. That was just the start for the fired-up Swiss, who earned a double break and finished off a 4-0 lead with his fifth ace.

But that kind of performance only served to inspire the Spaniard, with Nadal getting one break back in the sixth game as Federer over-clocked a forehand, 4-2.

Nadal then won a love game, against taming the mighty Federer forehand before the second seed pulled level at four games each as he won his 10th straight point.

Federer finally stopped the rot after Nadal's five-game winning run by holding serve and squaring the set 5-5 with a short volley winner.

Nadal broke in the final game as Federer put a backhand out to lose, his 44th unforced error to 20 for his rival.

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