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PARIS, France -- Rafael Nadal kept his remarkable unbeaten record in the French Open as he claimed his third successive title with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over arch-rival and world number one Roger Federer on Sunday.
The Spaniard was at his mesmerizing best on his favorite surface to shatter Federer's dream of winning the only grand slam to elude him.
Victory came after three hours and 10 minutes as world number Federer blasted a forehand wide on the Spaniard's first match point.
Nadal fell on to his back in trademark style before running to the net to shake hands with a demoralized Federer who again came up second best on the Roland Garros clay.
It was the third successive year he has been beaten by the world number two in Paris, the last two occasions in finals.
Nadal, still only 21, has a perfect record in Paris, winning all 21 of his matches.
Despite being the first player to take a set off the champion at this year's tournament, Federer was left to regret squandering 10 break points in the crucial first set which he lost and a huge 60 unforced errors in the match.
"I feel sorry for Roger," said Nadal.
"He is such a good person and a great champion. I'm happy to win here again but I need to keep working to get even better."
Federer, who had won the previous three grand slams, said it had been another chastening afternoon.
"It's a shame, but I think I came closer to winning last year. This year I was always behind and it was never easy," said Federer.
"It's not the last time I will play here and I will try all I can to win next year."
The match started with both men holding service in the first three points until Swiss maestro Federer earned two break points in the fourth game of the first set, but Nadal saved them both.
Two games later, the 21-year-old Spaniard survived five more break points in a thrilling, 17-minute game featuring amazing winners from both sides.
In the next game, Nadal earned three break points, his first in the match, and needed just one to capture Federer's serve, the top seed netting a backhand to present his opponent with a 4-3 lead.
Nadal broke Federer again in the ninth game with a forehand winner to take the set after 51 minutes.
The second set was tight until Federer earned three break points in the seventh game. Nadal saved one with a superb winner but then dropped serve for the only time in the match with an unforced error.
The 25-year-old Federer stayed in control until serving for the set, wrapping it up courtesy of an unforced error by Nadal to keep his chances alive.
Nadal was soon back on top, however, managing a break in the second game of the third set. Federer saved a set point in the eighth game but the Spaniard then served for the set.
Nadal mercilessly took it with a forehand winner and then set himself up with a break in the second game of the fourth set before cruising to victory.
Federer was kept at full stretch by his nemesis on clay.