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Red dust caked Nadal from his hair to his sneakers after his French Open triumph Sunday, the charismatic teen who plays with a pugnacious smirk holding both dirty hands up to a beaming King Juan Carlos of Spain in the box above.
On this day, the scruffy Spanish kid with tears in his eyes assumed his own moment of majesty.
"All the work you've been doing during all those years, the sacrifices, when you reach your goal, it's an extraordinary moment,'' Nadal said. "For the first time I cried after winning a match.''
In a match as enthralling as it was brilliantly played, Nadal overcame an inspired performance by unseeded Argentine Mariano Puerta, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, to become the youngest men's Grand Slam champion since Michael Chang won the French at 17 in 1989.