MELBOURNE - Victory at the Australian Open takes the 22-year-old Rafael Nadal's grand slam tally to six and leaves him needing only to win the US Open at Flushing Meadows to complete the full set, while reducing Roger Federer to tears. Both players pay respect to each other and their achievements during the award ceremony held after the final.

Rafael Nadal captured the Australian Open title with an enthralling 7-5 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-2 win over Roger Federer yesterday, denying the Swiss a chance to win a record-equaling 14th grand slam title. The world number one became the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open and chalked up his fifth straight victory over Federer, including last year's French Open and Wimbledon finals.

The victory took the 22-year-old's grand slam tally to six and left him needing only to win the U.S. Open to complete the full set while reducing Federer to tears. "God, it's killing me," Federer sobbed during the presentation ceremony."Rafa congrats, you played incredible, you deserve it man. (You) played another fantastic final."

Nadal offered a consoling word to his great rival after receiving the winner's trophy and a check for 2 million Australian dollars($1.28 million) from the only person to have twice completed the Grand Slam.

’A dream come true’
"For me to receive this trophy from Rod Laver is a dream for me," Nadal said. "It was an amazing two weeks for me." "Roger, sorry for today. I really know how you feel right now."

"It's really tough (but) remember you are a great champion, one of the best in history and you have proved that."

Sunday's final at Melbourne Park lived up to all expectations as the two best players of their generation slugged it out for almost 4.5 hours in a classic encounter packed with magical shot-making and intense drama.

The momentum swung back and forth throughout before Nadal struck the killer blow when he broke in the fourth game of the deciding set when the 27-year-old Federer slapped a backhand into the net and then again in the eighth game to seal a famous victory.

Nadal, showing no signs of fatigue despite his five-hour, 14-minute victory over compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals, started the match full of energy and was still running as strongly as ever at the end.

He broke Federer in the opening game and despite twice losing his own serve, he wrapped up the first set in 58 minutes after the Swiss master overcooked two backhands. Nadal was again the first to break in the second set when Federer mistimed a forehand over the baseline but the three-times Australian Open champion won the next four games to level the match. The pair maintained their extraordinary standard of play in a third set that was even more enthralling than the first two.

Federer safely held his two games to force the match into a deciding fifth, the first time an Australian Open final had gone the distance since Mats Wilander beat Pat Cash in 1988, the same year the tournament switched from Kooyong to its current site.