Chennai:Fourth seed Mihail Youzhny of Russia beat a hobbling world Number 2 Rafael Nadal 6-0, 6-1, in the final of the $436,000 ATP Chennai Open tennis tournament for his fourth career title in Chennai on Sunday.
In a disappointing 57-minute final, top seed Nadal offered only token resistance and was apparently suffering from fatigue and received medical attention in the second set.
Youzhny, the 25-year old world Number 19 who had a 3-6 win-loss career record against the reigning three-time French Open champion prior to the final, was hardly stretched as he broke the 21-year-old Spaniard five times, thrice in the first set.
Youzhny took home winner's cheque for $68,800 and 175 ranking points while Nadal picked up $37,350 and 120 points.
Last night's marathon, four-hour three-setter against Carlos Moya in the semi-finals seems to have taken a toll of Nadal as he won a mere 17 points, seven of them in the first set, and was virtually immobile for most of the match.
Under the circumstances, Youzhny barely raised a sweat in coming through. The Russian, backed by a solid serve, fired winners to the corners with pinpoint accuracy and was clearly at the top of his game.
Youzhny was generous in accepting that the title was virtually gifted to him. "It was a present from Rafa as he could not move or play as he usually can. I guess, it must have been tough for him today (Sunday) after yesterday's (Saturday's) long semi-final match against Carlos (Moya)," said Youzhny.
Nadal's growing discomfort was evident in the first set when he could barely get to the deep and well-angled balls that Youzhny blasted.
As the match progressed, the Russian's dominance grew by leaps and bounds until it was obvious that Nadal was running on empty tank.
Nadal, however, said he had no excuses to offer for his defeat and complimented Youzhny for playing well.
"No excuses for the way I played today (Sunday). I am of course disappointed that I couldn't play my best in the final. But I had less than 24 hours to recover from yesterday's (Saturday's) tough match against Moya," said Nadal.
The only time Nadal looked anywhere close to his best was in the second game of the second set when he held serve to level at 1-1, but was broken in the fourth and Youzhny went 4-1 up on serve to effectively seal the issue.
At this juncture, Nadal received medical attention on courtside and though he returned after a three-minute break, he merely went through the motions, dropping his serve in the sixth and then Youzhny closing the mismatch to love with his eighth ace.
Nadal clarified that the three-minute injury timeout he took had nothing to do with any injury and that he was extremely tired.
"I have no injuries, but I was very tired at that stage and called for the ATP trainer. I am now taking a week's break before the Australian Open (starting Jan 14) and hopefully, I will be back to peak fitness by then," he averred.
Youzhny said though he won the first set easily and led in the second, he was aware of Nadal's ability to bounce back and so was determined to keep it tight.
"After the first set, I thought Rafa might comeback and so I was keen to maintain my level of game. But I am sure that we will see him at his best in the Australian Open later this month," the Russian pointed out.
Youzhny's last title win was in 2007 at Rotterdam and his previous success against Nadal was in the quarterfinal of the Dubai Open last year.