Federer came into the 2008 Wimbledon final looking for his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title. He was running through the competition—not even dropping a set before the final.
Nadal was trying to break through at Wimbledon for the first time. He had lost the last two finals here to Federer.
Nadal was the first to break, to take an early lead. Federer put up a fight, but he was not able to get the break back. Nadal took the first 6-4.
It was Federer who grabbed the early break in the second set—jumping out to a 4-1 lead. With Federer serving at 4-2, Rafa broke back to get back on serve. At four-all, Nadal broke Federer again and closed out the set in the next game.
Federer would not be going home without a fight. Both players held serve all of the third set to setup a tiebreaker.
Federer grabbed two early mini-breaks to put himself in great position. Down 6-3, Nadal was able to fight off two set points to put pressure on Federer. Federer responded with a huge ace out wide to take the set.
No one broke once again in the fourth. This set up one of the greatest tiebreakers of all time.
Rafa grabbed the early mini-break and put himself in a position to win the match. He jumped out to a 5-2 lead. Federer fought off two match points, including a beautiful backhand passing shot down 8-7. He won the next two points to send this one into a deciding fifth set.
Darkness was setting in during the fifth set and neither champion was able to break serve early on. Federer had a break point chance up 4-3, but Nadal closed that window with an excellent body serve and forehand combination.
At five-all, it was Federer who stepped up and saved a couple of break points. However, at seven-all Federer could not hold off any longer. Nadal secured the break and had the chance to serve it out at 8-7.
Nadal grabbed a 40-30 lead to set up another match point. Federer responded with a great backhand return to even up the score at deuce. After an unreturnable serve, Nadal had his fourth match point. Federer sent a forehand into the net, and Nadal dropped to the ground in celebration.
The key to the match was Federer's failure to capitalize on break points. He had 13 chances and broke just once.
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), here is what Nadal had to say after the match, "I am very happy for me but sorry for him, because he deserved this title, too."
In such a great match, it is hard to crown a winner and a loser. For Federer, it was the first time he had lost on grass-courts since 2002.
This match will go down as one of the best of all time.
Final Score: Nadal Wins 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7