Rafael Nadal claimed his first Wimbledon title in epic fashion on Centre Court with a five-set victory over world number one Roger Federer which will rank as one of the greatest Grand Slam finals.
Nadal squandered a two-set lead and two Championship points in the fourth set tie-break before summoning one final challenge and sealing a 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (8/10) 9-7 victory as darkness fell.
Nadal had stood on the brink of victory after taking the advantage in the fourth set tie-break and holding two points for the title, the second of which Federer saved with a simply sensational backhand winner.
But in a match interrupted by two brief rain delays, Nadal finally seized his chance in the 15th game of the final set, breaking Federer then serving out and marking his victory by crumbling to the court.
Nadal had produced near-flawless tennis in the first set, breaking as early as the third game of the match when two consecutive missed backhands set the tone for a patchy start from the defending champion.
Federer failed to grasp an immediate break-back opportunity and Nadal was the aggressor, lulling his opponent into uncharacteristic unforced errors and serving out confidently.
Still Nadal was made to work, saving two break points and surviving four deuces before finally converting his third set point chance for a 6-4 lead in 47 minutes.
Federer, however, was in no mood to surrender his title. After starting the second set with his second consecutive love service game, he pressured the Nadal serve and broke for a 2-0 lead with a searing forehand cross-court winner.
The defending champion swept into a 4-1 lead but Nadal responded in emphatic fashion by reeling off five games in a row, rallying from break point down to hold and take the second set, also 6-4.
Federer squandered four break points on the Nadal serve at 3-2 and in the next game Nadal was given a golden chance to show Federer how it was done, but gave up his own match-winning advantage by being clawed back from 0-40.
Inevitably the set sailed into a tie-break, with Federer claiming the first advantage with a big service return for 4-2, and maintaining his lead to win the breaker 7-5 and narrow the deficit.
Trading blows like champion boxers, both men served strongly in the fourth set, Federer twice to stay in the Championships, forcing a second tie-break as good as any since Bjorn Borg's epic against John McEnroe in 1980.
Nadal grabbed a 5-2 lead before crucially double-faulting and allowing Federer to drag himself back from a double mini-break down. Federer was first to hold set point at 6-5, but flashed a forehand into the tramlines.
At 6-6, a long forehand gave Nadal his first Championship point, which Federer saved with an unreturnable serve. Nadal had his second chance after a forehand pass, and Federer summoned an even better backhand winner to save.
Federer earned his second set point at 9-8, and this time a long backhand return from Nadal brought an end to a truly remarkable tie-break, Federer's 10-8 victory clawing the match back level.
Another short rain break early in the decider did little to detract from the game's momentum, with Nadal having the first chance, failing to convert two break points on the Federer serve at 5-5.
Finally at 7-7 Nadal converted his fourth break point chance to set up the opportunity to serve out for the Championship. On his fourth match point, Nadal forced one final error from Federer, and collapsed to the turf in triumph.