Every two weeks during late June and early July, the sports world is consumed by grass. The grass being the grass courts at the Wimbledon Tennis Club in England.
Rafael Nadal was hot after winning both the French Open and the Queens Club Championship (a warm-up to Wimbledon). Roger Federer was looking to get back on track after not hoisting the trophy to either of the first two Grand Slam events for 2008.
Roger Federer, though from Switzerland, seemed to be headed home when Wimbledon became the focus of the tennis world. Having dealt with sickness throughout 2008 and a tough loss to Rafael Nadal at the French Open final, going to a place where he had won five straight times and was praised by the fans could not have been a better remedy.
However, in order to tie Bjorn Borg's 41 straight wins on Grass and his unprecedented sixth straight Wimbledon title he would need to face the man who owned him on clay and was gaining on him on grass. That player was Rafael Nadal.
Both Nadal and Federer sliced and aced their ways towards the final sunday in the two-week event at the All-England Tennis Club.
When they arrived, all the talk was on two topics: Federer's quest for six straight titles and Nadal's recent beating of Federer at the French Open only two months earlier.
The Match began in an unlikely way, as Rafael Nadal took the first two sets, 6-4 and 6-4. Then the rains came, like they always do at Wimbledon.
This gave Nadal a chance to realize how close he was to his first Wimbledon title.
It also gave Roger Federer a chance to realize that he had won five straight Wimbledon titles and still had life in the match.
As quickly as the rain left, thunder struck as Federer got back in the match fighting off match point and survived both the third and fourth sets thanks to crafty and risky shots.
As the players sat down in their chairs after four sets, the Rolex scoreboard showed: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7.
Four games into the decisive fifith set to decide the champion, split 2-2 and tied at 30-30 in the fifth game, the rains came again.
Now sitting in the locker room again, Federer was now thinking he was one set from his sixth straight Wimbledon title.
In the other locker room, Nadal was thinking he was still one set from falling to his knees on Centre Court with tears of joy running down his cheeks.
The two tennis warriors returned back to the battlefield and for eight more games exchanged fire, as they held their serves to a 6-6 tie.
Now, with no tiebreakers in the deciding set, the two wiped their faces with those purple and green towels and went to their sides.
At 6-6, Rafael Nadal went up 15-40 on Federer's serve and had two break points. Fortunately for the tennis audience, but not for Nadal, Federer dazzled his way out of trouble and held his serve.
Nadal took care of his own serve. As the players sat at 7-7, the concern switched from serves and break points to time. it was about nine at night as The skies over the All-England Tennis Club grewer darker with each passing shot.
They usually allowed play until 9:30 p.m. A Monday Finale was looming, but for a Spaniard who wanted to be known for more than just his dominance on clay, it was a perfect time.
Rafael Nadal broke Roger Federer and finally saw the light in the approaching night. He was serving for the Wimbledon Title.
At approximately 9:15 p.m., Roger Federer became human on grass as his last shot was stopped by the net he had met his disappointed adversaries at the past five championships.
Rafael Nadal had won at Wimbledon in thrilling fasion, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(10), 6-7(8), 9-7.
As the Spaniard fell to his knees and enjoyed a joyous cry, another man cried as well.
Roger Federer loved this tournament and to not be the one holding the golden trophy seemed like a nightmare that he thought would never happen with his eyes open.
These two men, who had given every bit of energy for themselves and the tennis world on Centre Court, were both able to show the true joy and pain they had been feeling for more than four and a half hours long.
Though there could only be one winner, it seemed like there were three: Rafael Nadal, who was the lone victor, Roger Federer, who looked like a beaten up man, and The audience.
The Audience was the flat out winner because it was given one of the greatest sporting events of all time.
One thing to keep in mind come next May at Roland Garros, Federer may just flip the table and beat Nadal on his own court.
Boy, this audience can't wait for that.
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