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Nadal defeats Federer in epic to win Australian Open

Last updated on: February 01, 2009 19:33 IST

Rafa Nadal captured the Australian Open title with an enthralling 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 win over Roger Federer on Sunday, denying the Swiss a chance to win a record-equalling 14th grand slam title.

The world number one became the first Spaniard to win the Open and chalked up his fifth straight win over Federer, including last year's French Open and Wimbledon finals.

The victory took his grand slam tally to six and left him needing only to win the US Open to complete the full set.

Sunday's final at Melbourne Park lived up to all expectations as the two best players of their generation slugged it out for almost 4-1/2 hours in a classic match packed with magical shotmaking and intense drama.

The momentum swung back and forth throughout before Nadal struck the killer blow when he broke in the fourth game of the deciding set when Federer slapped a backhand into the net then again in the eighth game to seal a famous victory.

Nadal, showing no signs of fatigue despite his five hour, 14 minute victory over compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the semi-finals, started the match full of energy and was still running as strongly as ever at the end.

He broke Federer in the opening game and despite twice losing his own serve, he wrapped up the first set in 58 minutes after the Swiss master overcooked two backhands.

Nadal was again the first to break in the second set when Federer mistimed a forehand over the baseline but the three-times Australian Open champion won the next four games to level the match.

The pair maintained their extraordinary standard of play in a third set that was even more enthralling than the first two.

There were no service breaks in the set but Nadal saved three break points in the ninth and 11th games while world number two Federer survived a set point to force the tiebreaker.

While Nadal lost the first point on his serve, he regained his composure to win four on the trot after they were level at 3-3 to grab a two sets to one lead.

The pair traded breaks early in the fourth set before Federer, a 13-times grand slam winner, saved five break points in the fifth game then broke Nadal in the next to seize the initiative.

Federer safely held his two games to force the match into a deciding fifth, the first time an Australian Open final had gone the distance since Mats Wilander beat Pat Cash in 1988, the same year the tournament switched from Kooyong to the current site at Melbourne Park.

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