Nadal Ends Federer’s Reign at Wimbledon

by John on July 7, 2008

For Rafael Nadal, the third time was a charm. In the gloaming on the lawns at the All England Club last night, Nadal won his first major on a surface other than clay. Playing with youthful bravado and applying relentless pressure, the No. 2-ranked Spaniard defeated grass-court nemesis and world No. 1 Roger Federer in five riveting sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7. The 4-hour and 48-minute marathon featured three rain delays, swirling gusts of wind and perhaps some of the best shot making ever seen on hallowed Centre Court. When Federer hit a short forehand into the net in the descending darkness, Nadal flopped to the turf on his back in celebration amidst the glowing flashbulbs. “It’s impossible to explain what I felt in that moment, no?” the Spaniard said at the trophy presentation. Nadal had lost the last two Wimbledon finals to Federer, but a year ago came ever so close, squandering four break points in the fifth set before succumbing to the Swiss Maestro. Nadal’s victory ended Federer’s run of five consecutive Wimbledon titles and 65 match grass-court winning streak. “Probably my hardest loss, by far,” said Federer, who was trying to become the first man to claim six consecutive Wimbledon championships since the 1880s. The Swiss star had had an uneven year coming in, winning but two titles, and seeming much more vulnerable than ever before. To wit: eight losses prior to the fortnight, including a thorough drubbing from Nadal just a month ago in the French Open final. So Federer’s larger purpose at Wimbledon was to stave off the Mallorcan’s threat to his supremacy. It didn’t happen, albeit by the thinnest of margins. “Look, Rafa’s a deserving champion,” said Federer. “He just played fantastically.” Indeed he did. Nadal won his sixth title of the year and his fifth Grand Slam championship. He is the four-time defending champion at Roland Garros. The match was clearly a battle of the heavyweights of men’s tennis. Federer served 25 aces to Nadal’s 6 and blasted 89 winners to Spaniard’s 60. But it was the brute force of Nadal’s aggressive ground game that led to the Swiss Maestro’s undoing. That and Federer’s inability to cash in on break points. Federer committed 52 unforced errors to Nadal’s 27 and converted only one of 13 break points. Nadal cashed four of his 13 break opportunities. “He was rock-solid, the way we know him,” said Federer of his opponent. “He’s definitely improved his game.” A draw would have almost seemed the appropriate outcome for a match of such brilliance as yesterday’s. “I am very happy for me,” Nadal said, “but sorry for him, because he deserved this title, too.”

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Erik July 7, 2008 at 9:54 pm

What an epic five set match by the two titans of tennis. My eyes were glued to this marathon for 4 hours and 48 minutes! This was the greatest and perhaps the best quality tennis I have ever witnessed in any tournament. Congrats to Nadal for taking down the great Federer.

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