Game No. 4–Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer–2008 Wimbledon Finals
With the end of the decade nearing, Sportmeisters Derek and Ryan have decided to present their top ten games of the past decade. Today’s discussion is on the fourth best game from 2000-2009. What follows is a transcript of their discussion.
Sportmeister Derek: Ryan, today we are here to discuss something that will be debated for the next few weeks. With 2010 on the horizon, we are naming our top ten games of the decade.
Sportmeister Ryan: Absolutely Derek, these games will bring an enormous amount of discussion, as it did in just us figuring out our list. After a quick pause, we move back into Tennis, and rehash the 2008 Wimbledon Final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
SD: Let’s go to the 2008 Wimbledon Tournament. Roger Federer was attempting to make history by winning his sixth straight Wimbledon title. Rafael Nadal was trying to prove that he was more than a clay court player, as he had won four straight French Open titles (beating Federer in three of them), but lost the last two years to Federer in the Wimbledon finals.
SR: They were definitely two different types of players, each with different strengths that came into the tournaments. Coming into the tournament, Federer had top draw, with Nadal number two. Both were looking across the bracket at each other, waiting for that moment.
SD: In true fashion, typical to his winning ways at Wimbledon, Federer didn’t lose a single set on his way to the finals. In his five matches, he went to tiebreakers a mere three times.
SR: Heading into the finals, Federer had won 65 straight grass matches. In other sports, we talk about home-field advantage, and for Roger Federer, grass was his home-court advantage.
SD: Don’t knock Nadal just yet. Even though he wasn’t strongest on grass, he lost only one set, in his second round matchup against Ernests Gulbis. He too, made it to the finals with ease, going to tiebreakers only four times.
SR: Nadal was on a 23 match winning streak, and had recently won his first grass title in the 2008 Artois Championships. Once could see Nadal was starting to learn how to combat his weakness in grass settings.
SD: That set up a finals match that would be fantastic, arguably the best tennis match ever.
SR: Some numbers before we get into the match. As mentioned before, Federer had won 65 straight on grass, including five Wimbledon titles in a row. He was looking to tie the all-time Wimbledon record (six) set in 1886 by William Renshaw. Finally, he was looking to snap his tie with Pete Sampras for most titles on open grass, with each winning ten times.
SD: Nadal had a few positive numbers to discuss as well. He was on a 23 match winning streak, as mentioned before. He was also looking to become the third man, behind Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, to win both the French and Wimbledon in the same year.
SR: Coming into the finals matchup, Nadal had the head-to-head advantage over Federer 11-6.
SD: After a 20 minute rain delay, Nadal took charge, winning the first two sets 6-4, 6-4. Clearly, this put Federer on the ropes, as Nadal was looking for the quick kill.
SR: Federer had the chance to win the second set, going up 4-1 thanks to a few of his 25 aces. However, as Nadal battled back to tie it at 4-4, we saw Federer getting visibly angry, bringing on a few unforced errors that saw Nadal take the 2-0 lead. Highly uncharacteristic play for a champion at Federer’s level.
SD: Maybe the anger worked as Federer fought back in the third set, refusing to give, until an 80 minute rain delay halted Centre Court.
SR: Nadal had injured himself slightly before the third set, and couldn’t turn the tide towards him. This break was a big relief for his team.
SD: Nadal was able to fight to a tiebreak after the rain delay, but Federer struck with four aces to take the third set by tiebreaker.
SR: The fourth set also saw the two get to a tiebreaker, and this time, Nadal had Federer on the ropes, looking for the kill.
SD: During the fourth set tiebreaker, Nadal went up 5-2. However, he missed two points, giving Federer the room he needed, and then an unforced error at the end allowed Federer to tie it up 2-2.
SR: A lot of mistakes and errors, but it’s part of the game. This was Federer’s home, he dominated here, and clearly had the momentum on his side.
SD: That momentum would be halted as another rain delay left the two tied 2-2 in the fifth and final set, but play resumed after just 30 minutes.
SR: At this point, day was quickly turning into night, as two warriors continued to battle on, even with the threat of darkness looming.
SD: Four times Federer would go up (3-2, 5-4, 6-5, 7-6), but all four times, Nadal came back and took the lead with two straight points to go up 8-7.
SR: Nadal had the momentum, winning the two straight points, and needed one more to finish off his opponent, and claim the championship. Federer did fight back though, getting the match to Deuce.
SD: Nadal moved quickly, hitting one of only six aces to get to match points, and then, on the final serve, Federer hit a forearm shot back into the net, ending the match.
SR: Nadal won in five sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7, in a match that took four hours and 48 minutes, officially the longest Wimbledon match ever. This clinched his first ever Wimbledon title, snapping Federer’s streaks as cold as the night.
SD: It was pitch black outside in a match critics have hailed the best ever. Nadal won his first grass major, and Federer was denied glory by his biggest rival.
SR: This match had it all and that is why we have named it our number four game of the decade. Stay tuned for the rest of our Top 10 coming up in the next few weeks. Any questions or concerns, feel free to email us at Derek@Sportmeisters.com or Ryan@Sportmeisters.com .