Federer ends title drought with Estoril win
By Henrique Almeida
LISBON (Reuters) - World number one Roger Federer won his first title of the season at the Estoril Open on Sunday after Russia's Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury.
The Swiss top seed saved a set point before winning the opener 7-6 and was 2-1 down in the second when number two seed Davydenko announced his decision to retire.
"This is not the way you want to win a tournament but that's the way it goes sometimes," said Federer, who recently hired clay court expert Jose Higueras to help him recover from the worst start to a season since 2000.
"It's great to win a title again in my first clay court tournament this season and it gives me great confidence for the Monte Carlo Open."
The 12-times grand slam winner has a perfect 10-0 record against Davydenko.
"I'm sorry about what happened today," Davydenko told a packed stadium in centre court. He later told reporters he planned to play in the prestigious Monte Carlo Masters Series next week.
"You know, I have some leg injury and I can't finish the match," Davydenko, a winner in Estoril in 2003, said. "Sorry guys." The Russian had won his last 11 matches, including the Master Series title in Miami this season.
In the women's final, second-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko won her third career title, beating 2004 Estoril Open finalist Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-4 6-2 in a rain-interrupted match.
Federer said he had fully recovered from a stomach virus and mononucleosis earlier this season. He said the matches at Estoril had enabled him to fine-tune his game before the French Open, the only grand slam tournament that has eluded him so far.
"My movement from the baseline could always be better but getting to those drop shots really showed me this week that I'm again in good health," said Federer.
"I haven't had any fallbacks or anything which is a good thing. I feel great again."
Asked if it was a relief to have finally won a tournament this season, Federer replied: "Not really, some might think it's a great breakthrough. I don't see it that way. I look at the big picture.
"The big matches are coming up, the French Open the U.S. Open where it really kind of matters very very much. If I lose there I'm disappointed, if I win there I'm going to be delighted.
"This is a great start to the clay court season."