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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Nadal battles to French Open win
Rafael Nadal celebrates his French Open win
It's a dream come true to win on my first appearance here
Rafael Nadal
Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal defeated Mariano Puerta 6-7 6-3 6-1 7-5 to win the French Open at his first attempt.

It was a dramatic opening set - Nadal went 2-0 up but, after having treatment on his thigh, Puerta broke back and clinched a thrilling tie-break.

Nadal levelled the match at one-set all with a single break and strolled to the third as the Argentine visibly tired.

The pair swapped breaks twice in a fascinating fourth set but Nadal broke again in the 12th game to triumph.

The 19-year-old walked onto Philippe Chatrier Court as overwhelming favourite after winning three tournaments on clay in the build-up to Paris.

And things seemed to be going his way when he broke Puerta in the first game of the final with his trademark thundering forehands.

At 15-40 down in the fifth game, the Argentine called for the trainer and received treatment on his right thigh.

It is just fantastic for me to be here
Mariano Puerta

The interruption turned the opening set on its head. Puerta saved the break-points and then forced Nadal into errors to break back at 3-3.

The left-handed opponents matched each other for pounding groundstrokes, deft drop-shots and an inevitable tie-break ensued.

Puerta clinched the tense breaker 8-6 to take a surprise one-set lead but, after such a frenetic first set, the unseeded Argentine was not able to keep up the momentum.

Nadal broke to take a 3-1 lead in the second as Puerta carelessly hit the ball long and the Spaniard served out the set to level the match.

The 19-year-old ran away with the third set, breaking a tiring Puerta three times to seal a 6-1 scoreline, which did not do credit to Puerta's own moments of ingenuity.

As Nadal edged closer to victory in Paris, Puerta dug deep again to set up a thrilling finale.

The Argentine forced Nadal into making mistakes and was rewarded with a break in the first game of the fourth set.

Then Puerta's own unforced errors gifted Nadal the break straight back - and a game of cat-and-mouse ensued much to the delight of the roaring Roland Garros crowd.

The Spanish teenager recovered from triple break-point down in the seventh game, but two games later he surrendered a 30-0 lead and a resurgent Puerta broke again at 5-4.

The Argentine carved out three set-points to stand on the brink of forcing a deciding fifth set.

But some dazzling footwork and reactions at the net somehow saw Nadal break straight back again.

At 6-5 up Nadal produced an array of pounding shots to move to a decisive break-point on Puerta's serve. And the Spaniard only had to watch as his opponent skewed his shot wide to hand him the break and the match.

Nadal's victory saw him finish the clay-court season undefeated in 24 matches - and he become the first man since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win the French Open on his debut.

Highlights: Watch highlights of Nadal's victory over Puerta

Interview: Rafael Nadal

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