Monday, July 7, 2008

Nadal gives Federer a taste of clay, runs him out of grass

It's not always one gets to see epic battles, events that get etched in history. One such was last night. What made it all the more memorable was that I was so lucky to witness it. I must thank the weather gods.

When it was time for Roger Federer to take on Rafal Nadal, one wish on my lips was that it should not be a one-sided match, like the French Open when Nadal demolished Federer. Anyway, I was to miss the first portions of the match, since I had an unavoidable personal engagement to attend to. And I wanted the match to drag on so that I could catch up the deciding sets when I am back home.

Around 9.45 pm, I checked the score for the first time. Federer had lost the first two sets: 4-6, 4-6, in the third set the match was poised at 5-4 in favour of Nadal.

Couldn't believe this. Imminent fall of the champion? I wished the rain continued so that by the time the match resumed I would be back home.

When I reached home and switched on the TV, memories went back 28 years, for the channel was showing the epic Bjorn Borg - John McEnroe match. Little did the channel nor I knew what would be played out when rained stopped, that it would surpass what was always talked about as "one of the greatest Centre Court encounters."

Nadal lost the chance in the third set to end the match and lift the cup; Federer had recovered in a tie-break 7-5.

Over to the fourth set. Will Nadal pull it off now, that was the question. Again the Spaniard missed the chance. Federer -- the tiebreak wizard that he is -- pulled it off again, in a much more thrilling manner 10-8. Imagine, he was 2-5 down! Couldn't believe that I was witness to a classic.

Finally, into the fifth set. Once again Nadal and Federer proving that one was better than the other with each successive shots. Every point a beauty. While Nadal packed power, Federer weaved artistry. The rallies that took our breath away, the crosscourt passing shots that made me feel so lucky to be watching them... the centre court had became a theatre of grit, resilience and endurance.

Rain interruption again... and the score: 2 games all, 5th set; 2 sets all.... The light was failing, and everyone was wondering if this would go on to the next day.

And, when covers came off, we were in for the climax. The battle was rejoined and the tennis fans got the treat of a lifetime!  

Somewhere in the deciding set, the match became in the longest ever Gentleman's Singles match ever played. When Nadal broke the serve, there was a faint feeling that the champion might succumb soon. Nadal was seizing the advantage like never before, and he would ensure that it didn't slip away from him at least this time. 6-6, 7-7. He made it 8-7; and finally... Federer played into the net, it was 9-7... and Nadal was ecstatic, after such a long match he could only fall flat....

What a match!

What I liked as much as the tennis was Nadal's humility. He said Federer was still the champion, he had won five times... 

Not only had Nadal put an end to Federer's unbeaten run of 65 matches on grass, Nadal became only the second player after Bjorn Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.

Will Federer lose the number one spot too?

BBC Sports videos:


  1. i loved every minute of the match, rooting for nadal - only thing missing was cliff richard singing when it rained. it used to be a standard occurence at wimbledon..

  2. It doesn't get any bigger than this one did.