By Iain Rogers
MADRID (Reuters) - After a year in which tennis was deprived of seeing one of its great rivalries played out on court, Rafa Nadal reasserted his dominance over Roger Federer by besting the Swiss 6-4 7-6 to win the Madrid Open on Sunday.
He also becomes the first player to win all three Masters events on the red dust in one season after triumphs last month at Monte Carlo and Rome. He will regain number two in the rankings when they are updated on Monday.
"It's really incredible and I would never have imagined achieving what I have, I need time to let it all sink in," Nadal said at a news conference.
"Beating Roger is always a special occasion and winning in Madrid is amazing and a dream for me," he added.
Federer broke back immediately but lost his serve again to fall 4-3 behind and Nadal brought the boisterous crowd to their feet when he took the first set, prompting prolonged chants of "Rafa! Rafa!."
They each grabbed two more breaks of serve in the second set before an anxious buzz of anticipation descended on the arena for the start of the tiebreak.
Federer carved open a 4-2 lead with a sumptuous drop shot but netted an attempt to repeat the trick on the next point and Nadal raced into a 6-4 lead.
A thunderous Federer forehand winner saved one match point but as the Swiss tried to force the pace on the second he played a forehand airshot.
"I've played more beautiful match points than this one," a smiling Federer said at a news conference.
"That's what happens, we're on clay after all. I decided to take a chance and it didn't pay off.
"He was obviously coming in to the match with loads of confidence having done so well on clay this season so it was always going to be tough."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar/Kevin Fylan)