ThrowbackTimes Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal tops Roger Federer for a three-peat

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ThrowbackTimes Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal tops Roger Federer for a three-peat

The 2006 edition of the Monte Carlo Masters was the last one with the best-of-five format in the final and the full draw of 64 players, with Roger Federer beating the upcoming star Novak Djokovic in the first round. In the title match, Rafael Nadal toppled Roger 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in just under four hours to defend the title claimed a year earlier.

Things had changed significantly in 2007, with the first-round bye for the top eight seeds and the best-of-three final that saw another clash between Federer and Nadal after they both defeated all the rivals in straight sets.

The Spaniard was the dominant figure in the Principality once again, winning the third consecutive Monte Carlo title and the first without dropping a set after a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Roger in an hour and 35 minutes. It was their tenth meeting on the Tour and the seventh win for Nadal, the fifth on clay, extending his dominance over world no.

1 that started back in Miami 2004 when he was 17. Nadal had the edge in the more extended exchanges to secure his triumph, pushing Federer's backhand to the limits and making more damage on the return than the Swiss. The Spaniard saved all three break chances to keep the pressure on Roger, delivering one break in each set to wrap up the victory in no time and extend his Monte Carlo winning streak to 17.

Nadal made the difference with his second serve, controlling his strokes nicely and finishing with 19 unforced errors in comparison to Federer's 38. Also, the Swiss served at 55%, which plagued his chances, having to play against eight break chances and suffering two breaks.

Roger had the opportunity to grab an early lead, sending a forehand long in game two to squander a break that would have been very important for him. Eager to avenge that tight loss from 12 months ago, Federer was the better player on the court in the opening eight games, drawing another break chance with a smash winner at 4-3.

Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer for third Monte Carlo crown in 2007.

Nadal fended it off with a service winner before giving Roger another opportunity to gain a significant lead. His forehand couldn't find the target, and that was his third and last break point, with Nadal closing the game after his rival's another mistake.

Federer paid the price very soon, spraying four errors to drop serve and find himself 5-4 down to leave Nadal serving for the opener. Instead of moving 40-15 up on the return in the next game, Roger landed a loose forehand, and Rafa sealed the set with a forehand crosscourt winner for 6-4 after 47 minutes.

Federer had to fend off a break point in the second set's opening game before Nadal fired a backhand down the line winner in game three to build the advantage that would take him home. Roger reached deuce on the return at 2-3, although Rafa kept his composure to make a hold and create a 4-2 gap for another step towards the title.

Federer repelled three break chances in the seventh game to remain within one break deficit and keep at least some possibilities for a turnaround. Rafa wasn't to be denied, though, holding at love in game eight and earning a match point on the return a few minutes later.

Federer saved it with a forehand winner and delivered a service winner to force Nadal to serve for the triumph. The Spaniard was in a good rhythm behind the initial shot and sealed the deal when Roger sent a backhand long to celebrate the third straight Monte Carlo title as the first player to achieve that since Ilie Nastase in the early 70s.