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NEW YORK (AP) — For seven years, Rafael Nadal deposited his share of skin and blood and sweat and effort on the imposing blue court in the middle of the biggest tennis stadium in the world.
At the end of the eighth year, he collapsed and rolled over, his face to the ground, exhausted while he celebrated — knowing that finally, he would take something away from the court where he'd left so much.
The top-seeded Nadal won the U.S. Open trophy and completed the career Grand Slam on Monday in a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 3 Novak Djokovic. Nadal became only the seventh player to win championships at all four majors. He has nine major titles overall, and having filled in the last big gap on his resume, the discussion now focuses on whether — or when — he can be considered the best of all time.
"I think the talk about if I am better or worse than Roger is stupid, because the titles say he's much better than me," Nadal said of Roger Federer, who has a record 16 Grand Slam tournament titles to his credit. "So that's true at that moment. I think that will be true all my life."
Time will tell, but time is on Nadal's side.
He is 24 years old, five years younger than Federer, and has eclipsed the halfway mark to Federer's record.
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