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Looking back at the greatest match in tennis history - the Federer vs Nadal 2008 Wimbledon final

Vyshakh R
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
451   //    Timeless

Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer (L) and Rafael Nadal

On a rainy Sunday afternoon in July, the people sitting at Wimbledon's Centre Court witnessed something magical. Many of them would go on to say that it was the greatest match in the history of tennis. Not surprisingly, John McEnroe agrees with them too.

I am talking, of course, about the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Having watched the entire match on TV at the age of 14, I have to say that I was awed by the tenacity of these champions to withstand everything and anything thrown at them. It was quite simply unlike anything I had seen before.

The two of them had made it to the final for the third consecutive year. The previous two years, Federer had successfully defended his trophy against Nadal.

In the 2006 final, Federer prevailed in four sets, whereas in 2007, in five sets. Everyone knew Nadal was inching closer and closer to the trophy with each passing year, but getting over the line would have still been a huge roadblock for the Spaniard.

Federer had to face his own inner demons too. Less than a month earlier, Nadal had crushed him in straight sets in the French Open final. Federer has since gone on record to disclose that the string of French Open defeats had affected his confidence in matches against Nadal.

The Wimbledon match had a delayed start due to rain. But once the match started, Nadal raced towards a two-set lead - before the rain lashed out again.

No one had expected Nadal to dominate as he had. It took an hour for the match to restart, but it was like the rain break had helped Federer come back to his senses. He rallied to make it two sets all by the end of the fourth.

In the crucial moments of the fourth set, it seemed like nervousness had gotten hold of Nadal as unexpected errors poured out from his racquet.

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In the fifth set, when the match was evenly poised at 2-2, the rain showed up again. When the match restarted after half an hour, audiences around the world hoped that it wouldn't affect the intensity of the players. And it didn't.

As the match moved into its fifth hour, the score became 7-7. As you probably know, tie-breaks were not allowed in the final set at Wimbledon back then (and they still aren't before 12-12).

Both the players were consistent and never lost their focus and determination in spite of the rain breaks. But at 7-7 Federer's serve deserted him, and Nadal won the game. After the change of ends, Nadal served his way to victory.

At the end of a grueling 4 hours and 48 minutes, Nadal came out victorious when Federer hit a forehand into the net. Nadal collapsed on to the ground in pure jubilation as the crowd stood up to honour their new champion.

The final score read 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7 in favour of Nadal.

It was certainly one of the greatest matches of all time in tennis history, by any standard. If you haven't seen the match already, do look it up on YouTube. You can thank me later.

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