Nadal ruins Federer’s dream of six Wimbledon victories (Second lead)

July 7th, 2008 - 5:48 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Rafael Nadal
London, July 7 (DPA) Rafael Nadal toppled Roger Federer from his Wimbledon pedestal, denying the top seed an historic sixth straight title on a rainy Sunday with a high-tension 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 finals victory. Nadal handed the Swiss superstar his first loss at the All England Club since the 2002 first round against Mario Ancic. Federer was bidding to win his 41st straight match at his favourite venue.

“It’s impossible to explain what I felt,” Nadal said after collecting his fifth Grand Slam trophy after a quartet of honours at Roland Garros.

“I’m very, very happy to win this title. I never imagined something like this, to win on this court. I lost the last two finals, and Roger is still number one. He’s the best and a five-time champion. But I’ve won, and it’s very important for me.”

The match was twice interrupted by rain at critical moments in the third and fifth sets.

Down two sets as the Spaniard got off to a hot start, Federer showed his class, saving three break points in the seventh game of the third for 4-3 only moments before the first of the weather interruptions, which lasted 70 minutes.

The second, 25-minute rain delay came in the final set with Federer leading 3-2.

World number one Federer’s grass-court winning streak was stopped at 64 matches by the world number two in a four-hour, 48-minute struggle.

Nadal, who lost the last two Wimbledon finals to Federer and has beaten him in the last three finals at Roland Garros, improved his record in the series to 12 wins, six defeats.

Federer will remain number one, with Nadal closing in as the hard-court season begins in North America.

Nadal failed on his first two match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker and was denied one more after breaking his rival for 8-7 in the fifth.

But Nadal joyously came good on his fourth opportunity, when Federer, who fired 25 aces, hit the net for his 52nd unforced error.

“I was disappointed, but I’m playing in the era of the best player in history,” said Nadal, who scrambled into his supporters’ box to hug his proud parents and his team.

“It was especially tough to play Roger here. He fights unbelievably, and his attitude is great whether he wins or loses.”

Nadal becomes the first Spaniard to win the title since Manuel Santana in 1966.

“I tried everything. Rafa’s a deserving champion. He just played fantastically,” said a disappointed Federer.

“The rain didn’t make it easier, but you have to expect the worst - and it’s the worst opponent on the best court,” he said with a smile.

“But it’s been a joy again to play here. It’s a pity I couldn’t win it under the circumstances, but I’ll be back next year.”

Nadal stands 5-2 in Grand Slam finals after winning the 29th trophy of his career.

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