19-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal is, unarguably, one of the greatest athletes to have ever emerged from Spain. And now the Spanish Secretary of State for Sport has honored Nadal by listing his 2008 Wimbledon win among the top three moments of Spanish sports history.
The Higher Sports Council of Spain, Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD), decided to celebrate World Photography Day by sharing the best sporting photos from Spanish history. They picked football star Andres Iniesta's 2010 World Cup celebration, Rafael Nadal's 2008 Wimbledon triumph and Paquito Fernandez Ochoa's gold medal win at the 1972 Winter Olympics as the three greatest moments.
It is pertinent to note that the three athletes in question have a unique achievement to their name in their respective fields. Iniesta is the lone Spanish footballer to score in a FIFA World Cup final, Nadal is the only Spanish tennis player to win two Wimbledon Championships, and Ochoa is Spain's first and only Winter Olympics gold medalist.
The epic Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal won his first grasscourt Slam in 2008 after a closely contested finale against Roger Federer. And the victory came about despite the odds stacked heavily against the Spaniard.
The Swiss legend was the top seed in the competition and hadn't lost a single Wimbledon match in five years. On the other hand, Rafael Nadal had won four French Open titles but hadn't been able to win a Major on any other surface.
The Spanish player made it to the final with straight-sets wins over Andy Murray and Rainer Schuttler in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively. But the summit clash against Roger Federer was never going to be easy, and so it proved.
Eventually, after fighting his legendary opponent tooth and nail for close to five hours, and also overcoming a leg injury and several rain interruptions, Nadal won the match 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7(8-10), 9-7.
Many fans and experts consider the Wimbledon 2008 final to be the greatest tennis match of all time. It marked the first time Federer had lost a Grand Slam final outside of the French Open, and also was the match that broke his grasscourt winning streak of 65.
All things considered, Nadal's win was a truly monumental achievement, and a golden moment in Spanish sports history.
Rafael Nadal won another Wimbledon title in 2010, with a straight-sets win over Tomas Berdych in the final. However, the left-handed player has not been able to replicate that kind of success in the decade since.
The World No. 2 is gearing up to make his return to the ATP tour. Nadal has decided to skip the hardcourt season, but he is expected to defend his crown in Paris later this year. The 34-year-old has also qualified for the 2020 ATP Finals.