The victor and the vanquished: Rafael Nadal (R) and
Mikhail Youzhny pose with their respective trophies
[AFP]
Fourth-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny outplayed top seed and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain to win the final of the Chennai Open 6-0, 6-1.

The 25-year-old Youzhny clinched the fourth title of his career by shocking the fancied Nadal, who managed to hold his service just once in two sets that finished in 57 minutes.

The title contest turned out to be an anticlimax for Nadal, 21, who Saturday battled for 3 hours, 54 minutes to overcome third-seeded fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya in what was the longest three-set match on the ATP Tour in 15 years.

"Rafa was not Rafa, I did not play against Rafa today,'' said Youzhny, emphasizing that Nadal did not play his usual game after a tiring semifinal against Moya.

"I did not win today, it was Rafa who lost,'' Youzhny said.

"I did not expect it to be so easy. I was lucky as he just couldn't move and couldn't play.''

"I thought he'll bounce back strongly after the first set. But once I made another break in the fourth game of the second set, it was just a matter of not making any mistakes,'' he said.

Youzhny, who will not play any other tournament ahead of Australian Open, said he was delighted to have begun the season with a title.

"I'm elated at the manner in which I managed to improve with every outing,'' he said.

The error-prone Nadal saw his hopes of launching the year with a title in the opening week perish as Youzhny often hit winners from the baseline and also moved up to execute deft drops that left Nadal stranded.

Youzhny has now reduced Nadal's lead in their head-to-head encounters to 6-4.

Blanked in the opening set where he was broken three times in succession, Nadal managed to claim his only game when he held service in the second game of the second set.

"Maybe I was a bit tired after the long semifinal, but I lost the final because Michael played very well,'' said Nadal, asserting that never made excuses for losing.

Nadal even took a medical time-out during the second set, but said he faced no fitness problem.

"I had no injury, just wanted the trainer's help in overcoming tiredness.''

"I lost in the semifinal last year and have now played the final. Next year, I'll win the title here,'' he said.

"Featuring in final is a fine start to the year,'' said the Spanish ace who in 2007 finished at No. 2 for the third straight year.

Thailand's Ratiwatana brothers, Sanchai and Sonchat, clinched the doubles title by defeating Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus and Marc Gicquel of France 6-4, 7-5.

Source: Agencies