Nadal's defeat sees Federer close the gap at the top of the world rankings as the year approaches its climax.
Nadal had nearly blitzed through the field on his way to the final and was seeking his second title in China following his win in Beijing the previous week, but went down tamely 6-4, 6-3 to the Swiss ace on Sunday (15 October).
Federer, who has won the last five encounters between the pair dating back to the 2015 Basel final, also beat Nadal in the Australian Open final, a round of 16 match at Indian Wells and the Miami final this year. "He's too good of a player", Federer said.
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Although Nadal still holds an edge in the career series - he is now 23-15 against Federer - that actually may make the win more significant for Federer.
It was only a small moment that might seem very small to some, but perfectly illustrates the incredible respect and admiration Federer and Nadal have for each other.
"I just think I'm not so scarred like maybe I have been in the past, not that I was horribly scarred in any way", said the Swiss, when asked what had clicked against Nadal.
Federer, who has been managing his schedule to wring the best out of his ageing body, said he had improved as the week went on and felt he hit peak form just when it mattered.
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"In a way not surprising because I felt good all week..." "I think both of us, we played at a very high level of tennis". "It was very clear for me how I had to play and I was able to do it for the one hour and 12 minutes that I was out there". "Of course this was not the best match of the week for me - but when someone plays better than you in most of the things that really matter in this sport, then it's tough". That's the real thing, no? There are 3,000 points left to battle for in Basel, Paris and the ATP Finals in London. For the two to tie, it would require Federer to earn 1,960 points more than Nadal between now and the end of the year. "I can not tell you [what the schedule will be]".
Nadal, 31, fresh from winning the US Open and China Open, groaned while lashing many of his shots while Federer was all quiet efficiency.
There was little between the great rivals in the early exchanges of the second set until the fifth game.
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