Federer back on the victory wagon

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The top-ranked Swiss won the Estoril Open when Davydenko retired with injury.

21 April 2008

OEIRAS - Roger Federer is winning again.

The top-ranked Swiss won the Estoril Open and his first title of the season when second-seeded Nikolay Davydenko retired with a left leg injury while trailing 7-6 (5), 1-2 on Sunday.

Federer even managed to add another personal first with his 54th career title.

Federer managed to get an awkward season back on track in windy conditions on his hardest surface.

"It's great to win a title again and to straightaway win my first clay court tournament of the season gives me great confidence going into Monte Carlo," the 26-year-old Swiss said. "I guess now, if you get better conditions, (I'll) play so much better."

Federer returned to his winning ways in his fifth tournament played this season. It had been eight years since Federer had needed so many events to reach a final.

"Two months ago when I didn't have enough matches and because of my sickness everything looked a little more up in the air," said Federer, who had been diagnosed with mononucleosis.

Davydenko, who fell to 0-12 against Federer, didn't notice much difference in his opponent.

"He had good control, he kept the same (play) as before," the Russian said. "I don't see anything different between (the) last matches and now."

Federer added Estoril to his schedule in a bid to boost his chances of winning the French Open. The 12-time Grand Slam winner also recruited clay court specialist Jose Higueras to help win the only major championship missing from his collection.

Federer levelled his record in clay court finals to 7-7 on a day where the cold conditions brought on by intermittent rain left both players reacting rather than dictating the play.

"Today was just the toughest conditions. You can't chase the line any more at all, you just try to keep the ball in play," Federer said. "It's just not easy to play aggressive tennis, it's more of a waiting game."

Davydenko had broken Federer to start the second set before pulling out of the match.

"I was running to the left and I felt some stretched muscles and (it was) painful," said Davydenko, who had received three minutes of medical attention at the close of the first set. "Maybe I can finish match but I don't want to lose 6-2. I have the Masters tournament coming up, so what can you do? It's really tough."

Federer had set up five break chances over Davydenko's first three service games but hit unforced errors on four of those chances, while Davydenko, who preferred to sit back along the baseline, fired one of his three aces to save the other.

Federer's serve was never under question coming into Estoril and he served an ace past Davydenko to save a break chance in the eighth, with Davydenko shooting a low forehand into the net for Federer to hold it at 4-4.

Federer, who was springing to the net continuously, was down 0-30 to start the 10th but recovered only to face set point which led to his fourth ace. Federer took it to a tiebreaker after saving another set point when Davydenko shot out.

After trailing 3-0 in the tiebreaker, Davydenko rallied with a forehand winner down the near line to level at 5-5. After hitting a crosscourt forehand for his 12th winner of the opening frame, Federer clinched it after Davydenko hit a forehand into the netting.

Davydenko had come in on the heels of a title victory over No. 2 Rafael Nadal at Miami.

[AP / Expatica]

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