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WORLD SPORT

Federer resists challenge of Nadal

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Federer lost a set for the first time in the tournament on his way to victory.

WIMBLEDON, England -- Roger Federer claimed his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title on Sunday, beating Spain's Rafael Nadal 6-0 7-6 6-7 6-3 on Centre Court.

Playing in his first Wimbledon final Nadal was blown off court in a 24-minute opening set but from then on he gave the Swiss maestro an uncomfortable afternoon in breezy conditions.

Nadal served for the second set but failed to close it out and Federer hit back to take a tiebreak 7-5.

Federer conceded his first set of the tournament as Nadal roared back to snatch the third set on a tiebreak. The top seed broke twice in the fourth to end the contest in two hours 50 minutes.

The Swiss became only the third man in the professional era to win four Wimbledon singles titles in a row.

"It's fantastic, I never thought it was possible but I made it," Federer, clad in his cream blazer, said in his acceptance speech after an enthralling contest.

"It was awfully tight and I was getting awfully nervous in the end."

It was only Federer's second win in eight meetings with the Spanish world number two.

His four defeats in 2006 had all come at the hands of the double French Open champion, but he was always the favorite to win on Sunday, having not lost at Wimbledon since 2002. The victory was his 48th in a row on grass.

Federer came out mean, moody and looking for revenge after his French Open final defeat last month.

His opening set demolition was the first 6-0 first set in a Wimbledon men's final since Boris Becker achieved the feat against Stefan Edberg in 1989.

Nadal had won 80 consecutive service games at Wimbledon en route to the final, but that sequence ended when Federer crunched a forehand to break serve at the first time of asking.

For once Nadal, the first Spanish finalist for 40 years, looked overawed as he struggled for rhythm and Federer broke again to lead 4-0.

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Nadal was the first Spanish finalist for 40 years.

Nadal saved a set point with a brilliant lob volley at 0-5 and another with his first ace, but Federer made sure at the third attempt with an exquisite backhand pass.

Thoughts of a Centre Court humiliation for Nadal, the youngest men's finalist since Becker in 1986, soon disappeared though as he finally exploded into life.

A pummeled backhand winner gave him a break point at the start of the second set and Federer then miss-hit a forehand wide, prompting a trademark bicep-bulging fist pump and roar of "Vamos" from Nadal.

Federer responded by carving out a break point in the fourth game, only to send a backhand over the baseline. Nadal consolidated his two-game lead with an ace.

Nadal, who lost the first set of the French Open final 6-1, began to dominate the rallies from the baseline and it was Federer's turn to look anxious as Nadal moved 5-3 ahead.

Serving for the set at 5-4, however, Nadal served a double fault at 15-30 and then looped a forehand out to gift Federer a way back into the set.

An angry Nadal regained his composure to take the set into a tiebreak, in which he got the first mini-break.

Three forehand errors from Nadal gave the momentum back to Federer as the Swiss won five points in a row to move 6-3 ahead.

The second seed clawed it back to 6-5 but Federer roared with relief when a Nadal forehand nestled in the net.

Federer served his first double-fault of the match to give Nadal a sniff of a service break at 2-3 in the third set, but salvaged the situation with a well-placed delivery.

Games went with serve as the match drifted into its second tiebreak which Nadal dominated.

From 2-2 he cranked up the pressure with some fierce hitting, winning five points in a row and sealing the set when Federer made a hash of a forehand.

Federer immediately went off court for a toilet break, and no doubt to gather his thoughts.

The decisive moment came with Nadal facing a break point at 1-2 as the Spaniard leapt to hit a smash but sent it sailing over the baseline.

Finally Federer had some daylight and it became clear blue sky as he broke again for 5-1.

Even then, Nadal hit back to break the Swiss when he first served for the match. Federer made no mistake at 5-3, closing out the match to love when he forced Nadal into an error.

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