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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Federer battles to fourth crown
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Roger Federer
Federer has now won 48 consecutive matches on grass
Roger Federer won a fourth successive Wimbledon title and buried a few demons by beating Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

The world number one, who had lost the last five matches against his closest rival, held off a Nadal fightback to win 6-0 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

After dominating early on he came back from a break down in the second set, but a fired-up Nadal took the third.

In a tense fourth set it was Federer who had the edge, breaking twice to win in two hours 50 minutes.

"It's fantastic, I never thought it was possible but I made it," Federer told BBC Sport. "It's an incredible feeling.

"I was doubting myself early on in the tournament... I guess the draw and the expectation, so to be through all over again and to play against Rafa in the final is fantastic."

I want to congratulate Federer, he played unbelievable

Rafael Nadal

The Swiss becomes only the seventh man to win Wimbledon four times in a row, and the third man in the open era after Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras.

"They are heroes of the game and this is the most important tournament, so to win four is out of this world," said Federer. "I'll come back and try for a fifth."

He has now won eight Grand Slam titles, 48 consecutive matches on grass and, perhaps most importantly for his own self-esteem, improves his record against the Spaniard to 2-6.

The defending champion, not surprisingly, looked far more at home in the opening stages, racing through the first set for the loss of 12 points.

Nadal had dropped serve just twice in the tournament on his way to the final, but was broken three times in 25 minutes as he made a series of errors off the ground.

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Federer converted his third set point with a sublime cross-court backhand but then let his concentration slip, missing a couple of forehands in the opening game of the second set.

Nadal suddenly found his range, firing two breathtaking passes to get his first break point, and Federer succumbed with a woeful forehand error.

The Swiss made another error on break point in game four and the set looked to be slipping away, but Nadal played a poor game when serving to level the match and was broken.

Nadal now had to win the tie-break to remain in contention but, after moving 3-1 ahead, the errors returned and Federer took five straight points on his way to a two-set lead.

Unlike in some previous matches, Federer was up against an opponent who is always full of self-belief and Nadal was not about to give up despite the deficit.

It was a great tournament for Rafael, I honestly didn't think he was going to play the finals here this week

Roger Federer

He earned the only break point of third set, in game five, but another tie-break was required and an inspired Nadal swept through it 7-2 with his best tennis of the match.

Federer showed why he is number one by stepping up a gear to break twice in the fourth set before unbelievably dropping serve himself when going for the title at 5-1.

Two games later the pressure was really on the three-time champion but this time his nerve held and he served out to love before raising his arms in celebration.

"I want to congratulate Federer, he played unbelievable," Nadal told BBC Sport. "This is a difficult surface but I played my best tournament of the year here and that's unbelievable.

"I hope to come back to this final and win. I improved a lot this year and I'm very happy for that."

Federer said: "I want to say it was a great tournament for Rafael, I honestly didn't think he was going to play the finals here this week.

"That's why I thought (Andy) Roddick and (Lleyton) Hewitt were the contenders, so it's a fantastic effort."

SEE ALSO
Gamewatch: Federer v Nadal
09 Jul 06 |  Tennis
Connors on the men's final
09 Jul 06 |  Tennis
Wimbledon final photos
09 Jul 06 |  Tennis


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