But the 20-year-old Mallorcan, who got the better of the world number one in a closely fought three-set battle on a specially constructed half-grass, half-clay court, said he was now looking forward to repeating the challenge.
"It was a great experience although before the match I thought it would be a disaster because it would be so hard to adapt to the court," Nadal was quoted as saying in the Spanish media.
"In the end it wasn't too bad as you could play on the baseline a lot, although there were more mistakes than usual.
The battle of surfaces
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"Both of us would like to repeat the experience because even though it is pretty unrealistic you can play the points without the usual tension and you are more relaxed."
The hybrid court at the Palma Arena gave a clear advantage to the player on the clay side, who enjoyed the benefit of a slower, higher bounce allowing him to attack the ball and pick his shots more carefully.
Nadal used his peerless skills on clay to maximum benefit as Federer struggled to adapt in the first set and although the Swiss took the second, he then used his characteristic tenacity to take the decider on a tie-break to the delight of his home crowd.
Both players admitted that constant changes in surface had made it difficult for them to find their rhythm.
"I was pretty tired at the end because of the variety of movements, you work different muscles on each side of the court," said Nadal who had beaten Federer in seven of their previous 10 meetings.
Federer said he had found it hard to adapt his style of play to the mixed surface.
"It was a big challenge because you have a lot of things on your mind," said the 25-year-old.
"I had problems deciding on how to play on each side of the court. I felt I was moving well on the grass, but it was harder to get going on the clay although I did adapt as the match went on.
"I enjoyed the experience, although it was a bit stressful having to change shoes all the time."
Palma has reached an agreement to host "the battle of the surfaces" at the same venue for the next two years.
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