Fiesta time: Nadal continues Spain's amazing year

BY foxsports • September 14, 2010

Spain's golden year of sporting success just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.

Rafael Nadal's victory at the U.S. Open is the latest coup for Spain in a season-long fiesta on the international stage.

Spain won football's World Cup in South Africa, Alberto Contador captured his third Tour de France and now Nadal has completed a career Grand Slam.

Nadal followed up his victories at the French Open and Wimbledon this summer by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the U.S. Open final on Monday for his ninth Grand Slam title. At age 24, the Mallorca native is already being talked about as one of the greatest players of all time.

''He's already a legend,'' sports daily Marca said of Nadal, describing him as ''the best in history'' by this stage of his career.

Many newspapers are asking if Nadal could be the greatest Spanish athlete of all-time. Nadal also won Olympic gold in Beijing two years ago and has helped Spain to three of its four Davis Cup titles since 2004.

''History is at his feet,'' Marca said.

El Pais wrote: ''The Spaniard leaves the city that never sleeps with the most pleasant dream possible: champion, myth and, now, a legend.''

A quick, unscientific poll done Monday on the Web site of radio station Cadena Ser said that of roughly 1,700 people who took part, 80 percent said Nadal could become the best tennis player in history.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero lavished praise on Nadal in a telegram to the national hero.

''Your name and your triumphs are now part of sports legend, and this makes all of us Spaniards proud. As expected, again you won your way: with effort, zeal to excel, elegance and spectacular play. Thanks for making us all rejoice and dream, yet again,'' Zapatero wrote.

Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy also paid tribute to Nadal.

''He really is something. We have to thank him because he makes us happy without asking for anything in exchange. No one gives as much as he does,'' Rajoy said.

Davis Cup teammate Fernando Verdasco, who lost to Nadal in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, was also full of praise.

''Congratulations from here to Rafa Nadal for winning the, for the way he played and unbelievable (fourth) set with only 2 errors!'' Verdasco wrote on his official Twitter page. ''So BIG!''

Nadal's victory also raised the nation's spirits following the only real disappointment this year: Spain's national team failed to defend its world basketball championship title in Turkey, losing to Serbia in the quarterfinals.

But there could be more celebrations to come.

Spanish racing driver Fernando Alonso won the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday and remains in the hunt for his third Formula One title, which could cap a truly unforgettable year.

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