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Rafa, Roger blockbuster still a blast

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer dominated mens tennis again in 2010, their epic rivalry cranked up to new heights and making fools of those who had unwisely written off the two men as spent forces.

In a sporting year which had more than a hint of Spanish fiesta about it, Nadal reeled off the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open to become only the seventh man in history to complete the career Grand Slam.

At 24, he was also the youngest.

He captured a cleansweep of the three spring-time claycourt Masters events on his way to a fifth Roland Garros title.

Nadal finished the year as world number one, but the start of 2010 saw the popular Spaniard in the depths of despair.

He relinquished his Australian Open title when he was forced to retire injured against Andy Murray in the quarter-finals and the alarm bells began to ring.

Nadal was about to slip to three in the world, but it was his injury-ravaged knees which were causing more concern.

The Spaniard retreated to Mallorca for two months, returning for the back-to-back US hardcourt Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami where he made the semi-finals.

Nadal wasnt going to leave with a whimper and the ensuing European claycourt season saw the Spanish whirlwind blow away his rivals, winning in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid before breezing through the French Open without dropping a set.

By the end of 2010, Nadal had a 71-10 winning record, with his Grand Slam count up to nine.

I think it was a very emotional season, said Nadal.

I am very happy for everything and just want to say thank you very much to all the people that supported me when I had the difficult moments and when I was winning.

Federer, five years older than his great Spanish rival, took his career Grand Slam total to 16 with victory in Australia, but then saw Nadal inherit his Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles.

The great Swiss endured a slump after Melbourne, going without a title until Cincinnati in August, suffering a shock quarter-final defeat to Tomas Berdych in the Wimbledon quarter-finals along the way.

But a fifth World Tour Finals trophy in London in November gave Federer renewed hope for 2011, a confidence boosted by having defeated Nadal in the final.

He had lost his previous six meetings with Nadal, and he remains on the wrong end of an 8-14 career record against the Spaniard.

I have no plans at all about stopping, quitting, whatever you want to call it, said the rejuvenated, 29-year-old Federer, who now has 66 career titles. AFP

 

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