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Nadal conquers grass in Queen's Open win

Latest update : 2008-06-16

Three weeks before the biggest tennis grasscourt event, Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal wins the Queen's Open, defeating Novak Djokovic in two sets. Rafael Nadal becomes the first Spaniard to win this tournament since 1972.

Rafael Nadal was crowned king of Queen's after beating Novak Djokovic 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 in Sunday's final to claim his first grasscourt title and deliver a timely Wimbledon warning to Roger Federer.

Just seven days after winning the French Open on clay in Paris, Nadal showed he has learned to master the unique demands of grass as well.

It was an historic achievement for Nadal, who is the first player to win at Roland Garros and Queen's in the same year since the pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournament began 30 years ago, and also the first Spaniard to win on grass since Andreas Gimeno in 1972.

If he can keep up this form, Nadal's 17-match winning streak could be extended all the way through to another Wimbledon final, where Federer is likely to lie in wait.

Federer has beaten Nadal in the last two finals at the All England Club but if they meet again the Swiss will find it hard to avenge his French Open final thrashing.

"I couldn't have imagined I would be here at the winner after the French Open," Nadal said. "I thought it was almost impossible. This tournament was very, very tough, with the best players of the world.

"When you are tired coming here sometimes it is tough to be 100 percent mentally but the people were very nice to me and that helped a lot."

Djokovic conceded he enough opportunities to have taken the title himself.

"I had a lot of chances. This is not the first time I have a lot of chances against him. But again he managed to come through," he said.

"It was partly was my fault and partly luck as well. I was bit defending too much. This is wrong tactic against him."

Djokovic was in peak form after destroying 2002 Wimbledon winner Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian en route to his first Queen's final.

Delivering a series of power forehands that even a slugger like Nadal couldn't cope with, Djokovic broke in the second game.

The Serbian had a golden chance to take complete control of the set when he won a break point for 4-0 in the fourth game.

But Nadal muscled his way back into the match and broke Djokovic in the next game on his fourth break point.

The tie-break was fantastic entertainment and Djokovic had the chance to serve for the set at 6-5. But, after trading a series of increasingly ferocious groundstrokes, he slipped on the baseline and Nadal was level again.

This time Nadal was finally able to make his move as Djokovic netted a forehand and the Spaniard served out.

After expending so much energy in a losing cause Djokovic could have folded when Nadal broke in the second game of the second set but he broke straight back.

Djokovic was back in the match and looked to have taken charge when he broke for a 5-4 lead.

He was serving for the set but Nadal just redoubled his efforts and another baseline rally more suited to a clay court ended when he broke back.

Nadal scented blood and, after holding serve, he won a match point when Djokovic sent a volley long. He wasn't going to let the opportunity pass and rifled a smash past Djokovic before sinking to his knees.

It might not be the last time Nadal celebrates success on grass this year.

Date created : 2008-06-16