Tue, Oct 28, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Nalbandian no match for Federer

WINNING WAYS While Roger Federer completed a hometown hat trick, Andy Murray defeated Andrey Golubev to win his second straight St Petersburg title

AP, BASEL , SWITZERLAND

Roger Federer won his hometown tournament for the third straight year on Sunday, beating second-seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in the Swiss Indoors final.

The top-seeded Federer hit eight aces and conceded just seven points on his serve all match.

“Things are back into a groove the way I like it. I’m happy with the way I’m playing,” Federer said. “It feels great to win at home. Once you had it you want more of it and you want to do it over and over again.”

It was Federer’s fourth title of the season after victories at the US Open, in Estoril, Portugal, and Halle, Germany. He is 4-4 in finals this season and 57-21 overall.

Federer improved to 10-8 against the 26-year-old Nalbandian, who won in Basel in 2002 and is a three-time runner-up.

The Argentine said Federer’s performance was among the best he has faced in their long rivalry that began as juniors.

“I didn’t play my best but today he was very good,” Nalbandian said. “He was always winning his service games easy. So it was tough for me.”

The 27-year-old Swiss broke to lead 4-2 in the first set and again in the third game of the second set.

The fourth game of the first set epitomized the high-quality tennis. Nalbandian saved five breakpoints, twice with aces, and eventually held after six deuces.

Federer kept up the pressure on his opponent’s next service game, creating two breakpoints with a forehand passing shot on the run.

Nalbandian then hit a forehand long to drop serve.

Federer held to love in the next game, helped by two heavily sliced aces to Nalbandian’s forehand. He clinched the set with an ace and three service winners.

In the second set, Federer hit a backhand crosscourt winner to break for a 2-1 lead.

Federer closed out the match with a forehand winner behind a big serve.

ST PETERSBURG OPEN

AP, ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

Top-seeded Andy Murray beat Andrey Golubev 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday to win the St. Petersburg Open for the second straight year.

Murray, who also won at the Madrid Masters last Sunday, became the first British player to win back-to-back tour-level titles since Mark Cox won in London and Washington in March 1975.

Murray did not drop a set on the way to his fifth title this season and his eighth career win.

The Briton dominated the match with solid play from the baseline, constantly trapping Golubev in the corners. Murray won five consecutive games in the first set and six more in the second to finish off in 56 minutes.

“I played well today, I really enjoyed myself this week,” Murray said. “At the start of both sets it was quite close but once I got ahead I started to feel much more comfortable. In terms of the score it was easy, but it wasn’t the easiest match I’ve played on the Tour.”

Golubev saved two match points while serving at 5-1 and 40-15 down in the second set, but netted a return shot on a second deuce. A 150th-ranked qualifier from Kazakhstan, Golubev upset eighth-seeded Marat Safin in straight sets in the second round on Thursday to reach his first ATP quarter-final.

Golubev said he was tired after playing eight matches in nine days, but he was happy with his performance.

“I’m a bit disappointed but not because I’ve lost today but because I couldn’t challenge Murray the way I really could,” Golubev said.

It was the 12th consecutive win for the fourth-ranked Murray, including two victories in Britain’s Davis Cup World Group playoffs against Austria in September. His win-loss record this season is 53-14, making him the fourth player this year to win more than 50 matches.

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