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Spain hails Nadal as sporting 'giant'

  • Story Highlights
  • Spaniards celebrate 2nd sports triumph in a week after Nadal wins Wimbledon
  • Victory comes a week after Spain beat Germany to win Euro 2008 football cup
  • Newspapers: Epic final match had turned Nadal "into a giant"
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By CNN's Al Goodman
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spaniards are celebrating their country's second sporting triumph in a week after Rafael Nadal won his first Wimbledon tennis men's singles title.

Nadal gives his customary "bite" of the trophy after being crowned men's singles champion.

Nadal held off a stunning fightback from five-times champion Roger Federer to secure a dramatic victory in a marathon five-set final, just one week after Spain beat Germany to win the Euro 2008 football championship.

Spanish newspapers said Monday the "epic" match had turned Nadal "into a giant" as he became the first Spanish man to win Wimbledon since 1966.

Spain's largest-circulation newspaper, El Pais, said in an editorial that the first decade of the new century was shaping up to be another stellar period for Spanish sports. As well as victories for Nadal and the Spanish football team, Spaniards have also won the Tour de France in the past two years (after other cyclists were disqualified or sent home) and have a good start in this year's Tour.

El Pais compared this to another golden era, the 1990s, when Spaniard Miguel Indurain was a five-time Tour de France winner, Spaniards won 22 medals at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and there was winning play at the Roland Garros tennis tournament in France and the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Various newspapers predicted this would be only the first of many Wimbledon victories for Nadal, who has become a dominant force on clay at Roland Garros but until Sunday could not beat Federer on the grass at Wimbledon.

"The hero of Wimbledon," headlined El Mundo, noting that he's the Spanish tennis player with the most Grand Slam victories. "King of the Grass," wrote newspaper ABC.

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The newspaper Publico wrote, in an allusion to an advertising campaign featuring Nadal, that "being Spanish is no longer an excuse, but a responsibility."

The marathon finals match at Wimbledon had an 18.4 percent TV audience share in Spain, with more than 2 million viewers.

Very healthy, but not nearly the 80 percent share, and 14.5 million viewers, that the Spanish football team had a week earlier when winning the European Championship.

Nadal triumphed 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7 in fading light in the longest men's final in Wimbledon history, as the French Open champion prevented top seed Federer from becoming the first man in history to win six successive titles.

The second seed's four hour, 48 minute triumph means he becomes only the third man in the Open era -- after Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg -- to win at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year.

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As well as becoming the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, Nadal also avenges his defeats to Federer in the last two finals and puts an end to the Swiss star's grass-court run of 65 consecutive wins.

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