The Wimbledon gentlemen’s final between the sports’ premier players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal surpassed expectation. After four hours and forty-eight minutes and two rain delays, Nadal triumphed 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French and Wimbledon titles in the same year.
After his wretched performance at the French, Federer needed to prove that he was still in command on his favorite surface. But Roger started the first set on the wrong footing, surrendering his serve in the third game. In the subsequent game, after Nadal took a 40-0 advantage, Federer rallied to get a break point after three deuces. Yet, Nadal stood his ground to take a 3-1 lead. Down set point, a net court allowed Federer to hit a down the line winner for deuce. But, two second serve return errors erased Roger’s break points and Rafael pocketed the set at 6-4.
As the aggressor in the second set, Federer broke Nadal in the second game. Afterwards, Roger was on cruise control on his service games while pushing Nadal on his. But at 4-2, Federer missed two makeable volleys giving Nadal a break point which he cashed in. In the next game, Roger had a chance to redeem himself, but with a couple of great serves, Nadal thwarted his break point opportunity. With three consecutive first serves misfired, Roger went down 0-40 and with his superior groundstrokes, Rafael converted for a 5-4 lead. With Nadal serving for the set, Federer resisted and got to an ad point. However, another backhand error was Federer’s undoing, thus, Nadal went up two sets.
With Nadal one set from the finish line, Federer could have folded. After squandering double break points on two occasions, Roger salvaged a 0-40 service game in the seventh, to prevent Nadal from getting ahead 4-3. After a tough service game, Federer went into the locker room up 5-4 with a rain delay. When Nadal stepped out to serve, he stormed to 40-0. Roger inched his way back to deuce, but with a couple of errors, Nadal held for 5-5. Ultimately, the set was decided by a tiebreak. With a correct challenge, Federer stopped Nadal from getting a mini-break early on. Then with clutch serving, Roger went on to win the set.
In the fourth, Nadal’s serve continued to bother Federer causing many service return errors. In the long rallies, Nadal had the upper hand, producing some superb passing shots. Conversely, when Federer’s first serve was accurate, he had little trouble holding. In the tenth game, down 0-30 and two points from elimination, Federer came up with the goods to level things at 5-5. Again, a tiebreak became necessary to determine the set. After being down two mini-breaks at 5-2, Federer was plucked from the jaws of defeat when Nadal threw in a double fault and made an unforced error. Then down championship point, Federer hit a sensational backhand down the line winner and eventually won the tiebreak 10-8.
In the fifth set, Nadal had a far easier time than Federer holding serve. On a horde of occasions, Roger had too many winnable volleys go long. For instance, in the fifth game, up 40-30, Roger lost a point at net leading to deuce and a stoppage of play due to rain. Luckily, Federer’s rhythm was undisturbed and he held for 3-2. In the eight game, Federer had his first break point opportunity since the second set which Nadal fought off with a phenomenal serve. With Roger serving at 5-5, Nadal had double break points. Nonetheless, Federer escaped for 6-5. After a comfortable hold, Nadal jumped out to 0-30, Federer again fought back to get to 7-6. With Nadal serving at game point, Federer made a great lob which Rafael chased down and later won the point with a beautiful cross-court pass. This was the indication that it was truly Nadal’s turn. In the next game, Nadal connected on a couple of passing beauties to go up 15-40. Somehow, Federer crawled his way back to deuce. But, Nadal would not be denied. When Federer committed an unforced error, Rafael took an 8-7 lead. On Nadal’s fourth championship point, Federer netted the return, giving Rafael his first Wimbledon crown as Manuel Santana, the last Spaniard to hold this coveted trophy in 1966, looked on.
Click here to see a video of Nadal serve for the 2008 Wimbledon title provided by the BBC.