London, Nov 28 : Roger Federer gave Rafael Nadal little chance to mount a challenge in the 22nd meeting between two of the greatest players of all time, winning his fifth season-ending title 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 Sunday.
Federer won an incredible 92 percent of the points played on his first serve in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals, and lost only 13 points on serve in the entire match.
Nadal, the top-ranked Spaniard who won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year, was able to break Federer once in the second set, but he appeared to tire as the match wore on. On Saturday, Nadal spent more then three hours and three sets beating Andy Murray to reach the final of the tournament for the first time in his career.
"I know I didn't spoil his vacation after this because he's had an amazing year," Federer said. "A year that any player dreams of."
The win cut Nadal's career record to 14-8 against the second-ranked Swiss. In Grand Slam finals, Nadal is 5-2 against Federer, but Federer has now beaten Nadal all three times they have faced each other in the final tournament of the season.
In the first set Sunday at the O2 Arena, Federer lost only three points on his serve, and broke Nadal once. He then lost five points on serve in both the second and third sets, but four of them came in one game, giving Nadal his only break of the match.
The decisive shift came early in the third set on Nadal's serve with the Spaniard trailing 2-1. He took a 40-15 when Federer sent a return long, but the Swiss then reeled off the next four points -- the last when Nadal sent a forehand wide -- to earn the break and essentially end Nadal's chances of winning.
On match point, Federer hit a forehand winner on the line, but the crowd apparently thought the ball was out as they sat quiet in the arena. Then Nadal started coming to the net to shake hands with Federer, and the Swiss raised his arms in victory to set off a standing ovation.
Federer has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles, the last coming at this year's Australian Open, and he and Nadal have combined to win 21 of the past 23 majors. But after ending his semifinal streak at major championships at Roland Garros and then faltering at the last two Grand Slam tournaments, Federer has played some of his best tennis of the year this week in London.
He won all three of his round-robin matches in straight sets, and then swept Novak Djokovic on Saturday to reach the final.
"You played unbelievable all during the week," Nadal said to Federer on court after the match. "So well done for everything." AP