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Rafael Nadal asserts his supremacy on clay

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KING OF CLAY: Rafael Nadal was too good for Roger Federer in the men's final at the French Open on Sunday.
KING OF CLAY: Rafael Nadal was too good for Roger Federer in the men's final at the French Open on Sunday.

Paris: Rafael Nadal of Spain successfully defended his men's title at Roland Garros on Sunday beating world number one Roger Federer of Switzerland 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) after three hours on the Philippe Chatrier court.

The 20-year-old Spaniard extended his record winning streak on clay to 60 matches with the 100th victory of his career on the surface, as he remains unbeaten at Roland Garros since winning on his debut last year.

After overcoming initial nerves in the first set, the world number two hammered home his dominance against his opponent, claiming his sixth win in seven meetings with 24-year-old Federer.

The loss ended Federer's bid for his first French Open title and a win that would make him just the third man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

The Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion had been bidding to become the first man to achieve the feat since Rod Laver in 1969.

He would have become the sixth man to achieve a career slam, the last being American Andre Agassi who completed the set in Paris seven years ago. Nadal closed out the victory with a swinging volley for a winner, then collapsed to his back and rolled over, covered in the clay he loves.

Federer's first loss in eight Grand Slam finals came at the only major event he has yet to win, and at the hands of nemesis Nadal, who also won when they met at Roland Garros last year in the semifinals.

Federer fell to 0-4 against Nadal this year. He's 44-0 against everyone else.

French fans were mostly in Federer's corner, chanting ``Ro-ger! Ro-ger!'' during changeovers. But the crowd support failed to faze Nadal, who won the first meeting of the two top-seeded men in a Roland Garros final since 1984.

With his unsurpassed retrieving skills, the Spaniard kept running down balls in both corners to extend points. And the left-hander kept pulling his heavy, high-kicking forehand crosscourt to break down Federer's backhand, his weaker side.

Raymond & Stosur win

American Lisa Raymond and Australian Samantha Stosur won the women's doubles final at the French Open when they beat Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and Japanese Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday.

Top seeds Raymond and Stosur had already won the season-ending championships and the U.S. Open in 2005.

Raymond becomes the 13th woman in the professional era to win all four grand slams after claiming the Australian Open in 2000, the Wimbledon championship and the U.S. Open in 2001.

Bjorkman-Mirnyi triumph

Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Max Mirnyi of Belarus beat twins Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5 to win the men's doubles title for the second year in a row on Saturday.

The same teams faced each other in the 2005 final at Roland Garros. They also met in the U.S. Open final in September, which the Bryan brothers won.

``It's always nice with repeats. It's been a great two weeks,'' Bjorkman said. ``We do well on all surfaces, but our strength comes out on clay better.''

The Bryans are the first men's doubles team to reach six consecutive Grand Slam finals, and they had a chance to tie the record for most Major titles in a row at three.

The last time the same two teams played in consecutive finals at Roland Garros was in 1951 and 1952, with Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman defeating Gardnar Mulloy and Richard Savitt both years.

Bjorkman struggled with his service return throughout the first set but eventually found his range.

Decisive break

The decisive service break came with Mike Bryan serving at 5-5 in the third set, when Mirnyi hit a winning backhand volley.

This was Bjorkman's eighth Grand Slam doubles championship: the two French Opens with Mirnyi, four titles with Todd Woodbridge (Wimbledon in 2002 and 2004, the U.S. Open in 2003, and the Australian Open in 2001), and one each with Jacco Eltingh (1998 Australian Open) and Pat Rafter (1999 Australian Open).

Mirnyi also won two other Majors with other partners: the 2000 U.S. Open with Lleyton Hewitt, and the 2002 U.S. Open with Mahesh Bhupathi. Agencies

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