For the second consecutive year, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the sports’ top players, met in the finals at the ATP Masters Series in Hamburg. This time, Nadal was victorious 7-5, 6-7, 6-3.
In 2007, Federer snapped Nadal’s 81 match-winning streak by taking the trophy in Hamburg. This year, Roger was the one with a 41 match-winning streak on German soil at stake. Federer got off to a blazing start with a 5-1 lead in the first set. As Federer served for the set, Nadal denied him by breaking. At 2-5, Nadal called the trainer because of a hamstring problem and it was tenuous as to whether he would continue. But, after getting treatment, Nadal got back on the court. From then on though, Roger appeared to suffer a mental meltdown and simply faded. Nadal went on to win the next four games and took the set 7-5.
Nadal got off to a running start in the second set, breaking Federer in the first game, his seventh consecutive game. A visibly dejected Federer could have packed it in; yet, Roger found a bandage large enough to contain the hemorrhage and broke right back. After saving a couple of break points on his service game, Federer was rejuvenated. With Nadal at the line, Federer broke and took a 3-1 lead. By then, chances that a decisive third set would be needed were almost assured. But, as Federer served to wrap up the set at 5-3, he produced a poor game leading to the players being back on serve. After rescuing a 0-40 game which could have meant game, set, and match for Nadal, Federer finally evened out the match by taking the second set tie break.
Perhaps, it was a sense of guilt attached to the injury time out, which might have disrupted Federer’s rhythm, the normally demonstrative Nadal was subdued throughout the match. The only sign of emotions during play came when he took the lead with a break at 3-1. Federer had a few chances to level things off, particularly in the seventh game, he was prevented from doing so by a few errant forehands. After nearly three hours, Nadal went on to win the set and the match.
This victory improved Nadal’s clay court record to 108-2 and marked his 11th ATP Masters Series shield with two on hardcourt. The finals came on the heels of a 3 hour and 3 minute marathon yesterday, where Nadal battled Novak Djokovic to maintain his number 2 ranking in possibly the best men’s match so far of 2008. With this title, Nadal reclaimed his position as the player to beat at the French Open. Maybe, Federer’s requital will come in Paris; although other players, Djokovic in particular, will have plenty to say regarding that outcome.
Click on the PLAY button below to watch Nadal’s post match interview after securing the 2008 Hamburg title.