Tennis

Nadal beats Federer in Rome

Rafael Nadal, right, has defeated Roger Federer in 20 of their 30 career meetings.
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ROME (AP)

After all these years, Rafael Nadal still knows how to dominate Roger Federer.

In the 30th meeting between the two tennis greats, Nadal controlled the final from start to finish to win 6-1, 6-3 Sunday for his seventh Italian Open title.

It was the most lop-sided win in the series since Nadal also lost just four games, but over three sets, in the 2008 French Open final against Federer.

''Rafa was just too good today,'' Federer said.

Nadal improved to 20-10 in his career against Federer, and showed once again that he'll be the player to beat when the French Open at Roland Garros starts next Sunday. It was the fifth-ranked Spaniard's fifth title since returning earlier this year from a seven-month layoff due to a left knee injury.

''It goes to show that's what every player should do,'' Federer said of the way Nadal took his time before returning to the circuit. ''Now he's as strong as ever and is going to be the favorite for Roland Garros.''

In the women's final, Serena Williams won her fourth consecutive title of the year in impressive fashion, defeating third-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3. The top-ranked American will go to Paris on a career-best 24-match winning run.

Federer hadn't previously dropped a set all week as well, but he had no reply for Nadal's topspin-heavy groundstrokes. The 17-time Grand Slam winner attempted serving and volleying, but he either missed the volley or Nadal passed him with the return.

Federer lost 10 points to nine won at the net. He also committed 32 unforced errors to Nadal's eight.

''I was missing too many easy forehands,'' Federer said. ''And if you don't stick your volleys or serve very accurate it's very difficult.''

It was 20th meeting between Nadal and Federer in a final, tying the Ivan Lendl-John McEnroe rivalry for most championship matchups in the Open era.

Center court at the Foro Italico was packed to the limit with 10,500 fans, but the crowd didn't get to see too much tennis. The men's final took only 1 hour, 9 minutes - a far cry from the 2006 final in which Nadal won against Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker after more than 5 hours.

Rome remains one of the few important tournaments that Federer has never won. He also lost the 2003 final to Felix Mantila.

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