Chennai: World No 2 and top-seed Rafael Nadal, apparently not fully fit, gave away the Chennai Open ATP Tour singles title on a platter to fourth-seed Mikhail Youzhny, going down without a semblance of a fight 0-6, 1-6 in just 58 minutes in Chennai on Sunday night.
In the final, the Spaniard perhaps was short of recovery time after his energy sapping nearly four-hour long epic semi-final win over compatriot Carlos Moya late on Saturday night when he exerted himself for the win, staving of four match points.
Nadal, on his third appearance and maiden final of the tournament, was billed to win the title on his ranking status and 6-3 head-to-head count with Youzhny, having won three of the four encounters in 2007 season.
But his usual on-court mobility was hardly seen and only on a few occasions he was seen making swift runs from end to end to return Youzhny.
The Russian No 2 Youzhny was richer by $68,800 and 175 ATP points, while Nadal received a cash award of $37,350 as runner-up and 120 points.
Nadal, who availed injury time out during the match, later said he had no problem with the knee and the injury time out had nothing to do with his physical condition.
"I had rather an emotional semi-final yesterday which went almost to four hours. Still, making the final in the season opening tournament is good for me. It is a good start," he said at the post-match conference.
"Youzhny is one of the strong players on the circuit and he plays well and he did start off well today also," he said.
With the 21-year old Nadal trailing 0-3 early in the match, the spectators overflowing in the stadium were left guessing the reasons.
The left-handed Spaniard, equipped with an array of strokes and shots, rarely displayed any of those.
On the other hand, Youzhny, who ousted defending champion Xavier Malisse in straight sets in the quarter-finals, came up with a dominating show.
Apart from holding his service games with great felicity, Youzhny fired three aces and maintained a steady return of serves to perfection to take the first set in just 23 minutes.
The Russian earned maximum number of points on first and second serve returns.
Youzhny, who finished in top-20 on the ATP list for the first time in three years, was authoritative and clinical in his approach.
He gave enough indications that he was out to avenge the series of losses against Nadal last season and never wanted to surrender the initiative once he gained the upper hand.
Nadal, who lost to Malisse in the semi-finals last year, was down 1-4 in the second set and received on court treatment for his niggling right knee.
The Spaniard came to the court to serve in the sixth game and yielded two break points, saved one before sending his return, in a short rally, wide to go down 1-5.
Serving for the match, Youzhny started off with two aces for a 30-0 lead, and wrapped up the set and the match without much difficulty for his fourth career ATP Tour singles title.
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