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Nadal wins Queen's Club title
Pritha Sarkar | June 15, 2008 21:53 IST
Last Updated: June 15, 2008 23:55 IST
Rafael Nadal [Images] rubber-stamped his grasscourt credentials when he sneaked past Serbia's Novak Djokovic 7-6 7-5 to win his first Queen's Club trophy on Sunday.
The top seed became the first Spanish man to capture a title on turf since Andres Gimeno walked away with the Eastbourne trophy in 1972.
With just over a week to go before Wimbledon begins on June 23, the victory will provide Nadal with yet another boost as he aims to improve on his two runner-up finishes at the All England [Images] Club in 2006 and 2007.
"This week was amazing for me. Winning this final for me was amazing," Nadal said courtside after he became the first player since Ilie Nastase in 1973 to win the French Open and Queen's titles in successive weeks.
Djokovic was the first to congratulate the 22-year-old Spaniard on his achievement.
"Fantastic player. I don't know if somebody ever won the French Open and then in the next week won on grass in Queen's... it's an amazing achievement and keep on going," said the Serbian.
Seven days after Nadal had demolished the opposition to capture his fourth successive French Open crown, he proved that his grasscourt skills could be just as devastating.
Djokovic looked to be on course to win his first title on the slick surface when he earned a break point to open up a 4-0 lead in the opening set.
But Nadal's survival instincts kicked in and he frustrated Djokovic with a stinging serve to avert the break point and after 26 minutes, finally registered on the scoreboard when he slammed down an ace to win his first game of the contest.
He pounced in the next game and an unlucky Djokovic saw his advantage slip away when a netcord helped the Spaniard to grab the break back.
The duo fought tooth-and-nail over the next seven games and with neither willing to give an inch, they headed towards a tiebreak.
In a hotly contested breaker, fans were treated to Djokovic winning a point while performing a splits behind the baseline. Not to be outdone, Nadal sent the crowd into a frenzy when he hit a spectacular passing shot on the run. An impressed Djokovic nodded his appreciation and joined in with the applause.
Nadal sensed he had his man on the run and after saving a set point, the Spaniard moved in for the kill and claimed the tiebreak 8-6 when Djokovic netted a service return.
The world number two kept up the momentum to move 2-0 ahead in the second but Australian Open champion Djokovic, who had entered the match with a 3-0 finals record in 2008, was not about to give up.
He levelled for 2-2 and let out an almighty roar when he broke Nadal in the ninth game after the Spaniard had shovelled the ball wide on breakpoint.
But that turned out to be his last hurrah as Nadal roared through the next three games and capped his incredible grasscourt odyssey with a thumping smash on match point before falling to his knees.
"I now have titles on all surfaces, so I am now a more complete player than I was a week ago," grinned Nadal after extending his winning streak to 17 matches.
(Editing by Miles Evans)