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Nadal Denies Federer To Win Sixth Roland Garros Crown

Paris, France

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal won his 10th Grand Slam championship.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal won a record-equalling sixth Roland Garros crown on Sunday as he defeated rival Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 in Sunday’s final in Paris.

The 25-year-old Nadal joined Bjorn Borg as the second player in history to win six titles at the clay-court Grand Slam championship. The Spaniard won four successive titles from 2005-2008 (defeating Federer in the ’06-’08 finals) and regained his trophy last year with victory over Robin Soderling.

"For me it's something very special to equal the six titles of Bjorn, for sure," said Nadal. "But for me, the most important thing is to win Roland Garros. It's really an honour to have this record with him. I am going to keep working to be here next year and to try to play well another time."

Victory for Nadal guarantees him the No. 1 spot in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on Monday. Had Federer won, Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic would have climbed to the top of the rankings.

Just three days after his 25th birthday, Nadal won his 10th major singles title in his 12th final. In addition to his six victories in Paris, the Mallorcan has won Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010, he lifted the Australian Open trophy in 2009, and last year completed the career Grand Slam with victory at the US Open. His only defeats in Grand Slam finals have come against Federer, at Wimbledon in 2006-2007.

He is the second youngest player, behind Borg to win 10 Grand Slam championships; Borg was 24 years and 30 days old when he won his 10th title at 1980 Wimbledon. The Swede was also just one day younger than Nadal when he won his sixth Roland Garros title in 1981.

Nadal came into Roland Garros having fallen slightly short of his perfect standards from the year before. In 2010 the left-hander had completed a clean sweep of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Madrid and Rome, but this year was beaten by Djokovic in the finals at Madrid and Rome.

The Manacor native was then taken to five sets at Roland Garros for the first time when American John Isner forced him to fight back from two-sets-to-one down in the first round. He fought through his early difficulties, though, and it was vintage Nadal who dismantled Andy Murray in the semi-finals before defeating Federer in three hours and 40 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday.

"What I said one week ago is I am going to put in everything to try to change the situation, to try to play better, and that's what I did,' said Nadal. "I try my best in every moment with the right attitude all the time, so finally I was able to play my best when I needed my best.

"So for that reason, today I am here with the trophy. [I am] very happy for that. It's a big personal satisfaction to win this tournament, especially when you started without playing your best. My mind was open to change the situation, so that makes the victory probably more special. So in general, [I am] very, very happy for everything."

World No. 3 Federer was bidding to win his 17th major title and triumph at Roland Garros for the second time, having beaten Soderling in the 2009 final to complete the career Grand Slam. It was his fourth runner-up finish at Roland Garros, and his seventh defeat in a major final.

"When I went into the rain delay, I was down basically two sets almost," reflected Federer. "I almost saved myself, but I'm very competitive, and I thought he was getting tired throughout the third set and also in the fourth. It was unfortunate I couldn't take my chances early on in the fourth. Rafa played well and deserved the win today.

"Today was a very good match. Overall obviously I'm very happy about the tournament. Obviously you should be disappointed after losing in a Grand Slam final. Obviously I feel that a little bit today. He's a great champion on clay especially, and I am happy with my tournament."

The Swiss, who had been somewhat eclipsed by the achievements of Nadal and Djokovic in the lead-up to Roland Garros, hit his stride in Paris as he advanced to the final having spent just 12 hours and 52 minutes on court, compared to 17 hours and 17 minutes for Nadal. In the semi-finals, Federer had ended Djokovic’s 41-match winning streak in 2011 with victory in four sets to reach his first Grand Slam final since beating Murray at the 2010 Australian Open.

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