Nadal Routs Federer in French Open Tuneup Final; Williams Wins

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in straight sets in the final of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia, winning the clay-court tennis tournament for the seventh time as he prepares to defend his French Open title.

The Spaniard took 69 minutes to defeat Federer, the second seed, 6-1, 6-3 in Rome yesterday. Fifth-seeded Nadal broke the Swiss player’s serve five times and made just eight unforced errors on the way to his 14th win in 20 finals between the pair.

Nadal, 26, had needed a victory to gain a top-four seeding for the French Open, which he’s won seven times. He’s compiled a 36-2 record in winning six of his eight events since returning in February following a seven-month layoff because of a knee injury. The French Open starts next week.

“If you told me four or five months ago that after eight tournaments I would have won six titles from eight finals, I would say ‘you are crazy,’” Nadal said. “I’m just enjoying the moment. I value it more than ever because I know where I was just a few months ago.”

In the women’s tournament, world No. 1 Serena Williams improved to 16-0 on clay this season by beating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 6-3.

Williams only lost 14 games in five matches in winning her 51st WTA title.

“It wasn’t easy, nothing is ever easy,” Williams said. “The difference today was I took the opportunities when I had them and came up with some really good shots.”

Williams has won 24 matches in a row, a career-best for the American. Azarenka, the No. 3 seed, was returning after two months out with an ankle injury.

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