After grueling semifinal victory, Nadal falls to Youzhny in final
The 19th-ranked Youzhny clinched the fourth title of his career by shocking No. 2 Nadal, who managed to hold his service just once.
The 57-minute contest turned out to be a letdown for Nadal, who needed 3 hours, 54 minutes to overcome fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya in what was the longest three-set match on the ATP Tour in 15 years.
"Maybe I was a bit tired after the long semifinal, but I lost the final because Mikhail played very well," said Nadal, who hasn't won a title since July.
The error-prone Nadal saw his hopes of starting the year with a title vanish as the Russian hit winners from the baseline and executed deft drops. Nadal's only hold came in the second game of the second set.
"Rafa was not Rafa," Youzhny said. "I did not win today, it was Rafa who lost. I did not expect it to be so easy. I was lucky as he just couldn't move and couldn't play."
Nadal took a medical time-out during the second set, but said he had no fitness problem.
"I had no injury, just wanted the trainer's help in overcoming tiredness," he said. "I lost in the semifinal last year and have now played the final. Next year, I'll win the title here."
Nadal leads their head-to-head series 6-4.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press