May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Roger Federer ended Rafael Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay by beating the Spaniard in three sets in the final of tennis's Hamburg Masters, the last major warm-up for the French Open.
The world No. 1 from Switzerland downed second-ranked Nadal 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 for a fourth Hamburg title. The last player to defeat Nadal on clay was Russian Igor Andreev in April 2005, with Federer losing to him in all five of their previous encounters on the sport's slowest surface.
``It does feel like a breakthrough,'' Federer told reporters. ``Now we are going to the French Open, and it's going to be interesting to see both our reactions.''
The win boosts Federer's chances of claiming the French, the only major to elude the 10-time Grand Slam champion. Nadal beat Federer in last year's final and is seeking a third straight title at Roland Garros in Paris starting on May 27.
``I don't know why the match turned around,'' Nadal told reporters. ``I feel a little tired mentally, but physically I was okay. I have had a lot of matches and it's difficult. Maybe I was not the same like always mentally.''
Federer battled to the title in Hamburg, a week after cutting ties with his part-time coach of 2 1/2 years, Tony Roche. That followed a defeat to Filippo Volandri at the Rome Masters.
He needed three sets to get past Juan Monaco in his opener, went to three against David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, and lost the opening set to Carlos Moya, Nadal's close friend, in the semifinals yesterday.
``It's nice to be playing well again after last week's disappointment,'' Federer said. ``I was struggling through the week because I had a rough draw.''
Nadal failed to collect his fourth clay-court title in 2007 after beating Federer in Monte Carlo, Guillermo Canas in Barcelona and Fernando Gonzalez in Rome. Some, including coach Nick Bollettieri, said Nadal should have skipped Hamburg to avoid fatigue and better his chances in Paris.
After dropping the opener, Federer turned it around by playing aggressively from the baseline and coming to the net when he had the chance. Federer won 26 of 38 points in the deciding set and let out a yell when Nadal netted a forehand on match point.
``I made more mistakes than usual,'' Nadal said.
Federer was broken twice in a first set where he got only 48 percent of his first serves in and lost 67 percent of points on his second serve. He increased his first-serve percentage to 74 percent in the second set and broke Nadal twice, including in the final game. His first serve again faltered in the third, though, as he got only 33 percent of his first serves in.
Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, seeded third, beat second-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 to win the Italian Open in Rome. Jankovic won her third title of the year, while Kuznetsova fell to 0-4 in finals in 2007.
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