ROGER Federer has leapfrogged Rafael Nadal in the world standings and is back at No 2 after his third victory at the Madrid Open.
The former world No 1 rallied from losing the first set to Tomas Berdych to win 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.
While Nadal and world No 1 Novak Djokovic bemoaned the new blue clay-court, Federer's biggest obstacle was to overcome an opponent who had beaten him in three of their previous five meetings.
"It is amazing to win here again," said Federer. "It has been a tough tournament. Tough to move, but you've got to try to make the most of it. Here there was some good tennis and some bad tennis, but you see that in all tournaments."
Berdych hit 14 winners and made just two unforced errors in a dominant first set. However, Federer finally found his ground game and broke Berdych twice to even the score and force the decisive third set, where he secured victory after Berdych had saved three championship points.
The sixth-seeded Berdych jumped out to a 3-0 lead after hitting a crosscourt return to take Federer's first service game.
Federer, who won here in 2006 and 2009, saved two set points before Berdych clinched the first set with a big serve that the Swiss star could only knock back into the net.
Federer continued to struggle with his shotmaking, but the 16-time Grand Slam winner leveled the match by breaking twice in the second set, including when Berdych hit a double fault on set point.
"It was a tough tournament and a brutal draw. Tomas played very well," said Federer. "I'm sure we will see each other many more times and they will be quality matches like this one."
Berdych, who had carried the initiative through most of the match, became erratic as the pressure grew in the decider.
Serving to send the match to a tiebreaker, he fell behind 0-40 and then rallied back to force deuce, only to hit long and then net his final volley to end the match in just over two and a half hours.
In the women's final, Serena Williams overpowered world No 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 to boost her hopes ahead of the French Open which gets under way later this month.
Williams served 14 aces on her way to her 41st career title and second of the season as she remained unbeaten in her last 13 matches on clay.