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By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal
Nadal celebrated victory on a darkened Centre Court after a late finish

Rafael Nadal described his first Wimbledon title as a "dream" after beating Roger Federer in an epic final.

The 22-year-old won 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 to become the first Spaniard since Manuel Santana in 1966 to win a Wimbledon singles title.

French Open champion Nadal had lost to Federer in the last two finals.

"It's impossible to describe. I'm just very happy. It's unbelievable for me to have the title here at Wimbledon," said the Majorcan.

"It's a dream. Always, as a kid, I dreamed of playing here.

"For any Spanish player to win here is unbelievable - for any player - but especially Spanish because we don't have a lot of titles here."

Nadal is the the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back, and now has five Grand Slam titles.

Nadal describes winning as a dream come true

The match was the longest Wimbledon men's singles final ever at four hours, 48 minutes, and the winning shot was struck with Centre Court in near darkness at 2115 BST.

"For me, it was the most emotional match I ever played in, probably the best," said Nadal.

He added: "In the last game, I didn't see anything. It was unbelievable and I thought we had to stop if I lost the last game, that's for sure.

"At the same time when I was preparing to serve at 8-7, I said 'I can't believe it, I can't see anything.'"

The title had looked like it might slip away when Federer saved two match points in the fourth set, the second with a superb backhand, but Nadal said he had not been worried.

"I didn't miss," he said. "He had a very good serve, (then) I put the ball to the backhand because he made some mistakes before but this time he made an amazing passing shot."

606: DEBATE
He added: "When I lost the fourth set I sat down and said 'I'm playing well.' I had a very positive attitude, l felt confident with myself.

"It's the final of Wimbledon so I have to continue fighting all the time.

"I'm playing well so why do I have to go down? I lost two tie-breaks. I played a terrible two points with serve at 5-2 and later he did very well."

And as the drama unfolded in the fifth set, Nadal remained calm.

"I was just focused on every point," he said. "It's impossible to think too much. Just point by point. I didn't want to think about the title."

Nadal has completely dominated at Roland Garros for the last four years and is unbeaten there, but he admitted a first Wimbledon crown was something different.

"When I won the French for the first time it was unbelievable too," he said.

"I don't want to compare Grand Slams but Wimbledon is special, the tradition. For me, it's more surprising to win here than the French."

Nadal has pulled out of this week's Mercedes Cup clay court event in Stuttgart, citing a knee problem. The defending champion said: "I'm disappointed that I can't play."




see also
Henman on Nadal's Wimbledon win
06 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Becker's verdict on men's final
07 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Federer stung by 'hardest loss'
06 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Nadal wins epic Wimbledon final
06 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Federer v Nadal as it happened
06 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Wimbledon photos
06 Jul 08 |  Tennis


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