Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ruthless Rafa Makes History with Fourth Monte Carlo Shield

There's no way of stopping the Rafa stampede, even Roger Federer tried and failed. World number 2, Rafael Nadal, broke a new record on Sunday when he viciously defeated Federer in the Monte Carlo Masters final, to capture his fourth straight title on Monacan soil.

Nadal, a talisman on clay, has become the first player in Open-era history to win 4 back-to-back Monte Carlo titles, a feat that hasn't been achieved since Anthony Wilding of New Zealand won the title from 1911 through 1914.

Nadal, who has won 98 of his last 99 claycourt matches, put up a great fight against the world number one, as he was behind in both sets but refused to give Federer the pleasure of winning a single set.

The three-time French Open champion switched to full retaliation mode the second he conceded his opening service game, as he instantly broke back to deny Federer a 2-game lead. The same scenario was repeated when Federer broke to go up 4-3, but Rafa broke back and held serve before he eventually claimed a crucial break to bag the first set 7-5.

If the first set was a thriller, the second was far more than a mere sequel, as Federer earned himself a double-break to race to a 4-0 lead before he probably started daydreaming about his sole clay victory over Rafa in Hamburg (which he won 6-0 in the third set), thinking today was gonna be a repeat.

We all thought Rafa was actually gonna lose his first set in 10 matches in Monte Carlo, but we all thought wrong. The 21-year-old turned it all around winning 5 straight games to lead the Swiss 5-4. Again the critical break came at 6-5 as Rafa outrallied Federer on the first match point and immediately threw himself to the ground of clay, that has been so sweet to him over the past 4 years.

So Rafa finally captured a title this season and something tells me there's a lot more to come. Next stop for Rafa is Barcelona where he also has a title to defend, while Federer is free to beat himself up till Rome.

Cheers and of course, Vamos Rafa :)

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