Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon Win - Birth of a New Champion
It was the summit of champions. Five sets and almost five hours later, in near-darkness Rafael Nadal scrambled up the Wimbledon stands to embrace his family and break down in tears. And nobody summed up the moment better than the winner himself. Asked how did he feel when he collapsed on Centre Court - in relief, exhaustion and probably disbelief on having dethroned the five-time champion, Rafael Nadal said, "It is impossible to describe it, no?"
It truly was impossible to describe. No player had beaten Federer on grass since 2002, and it had to be an epic final of this kind. Two sets down, Federer staged one of the most incredible comebacks in the history of tennis to ta ke the next two sets in tie-breaks. In the closely-fought 4th set tie-break, the champion even saved a championship point. But 7-8 in the final set, with Nadal serving, Federer finally succumbed. He had converted only 1 of the 14 break points he had and his 25 aces to Nadal's 6 finally came to naught.
Nadal was on course right from the beginning. He broke Federer in the third game of the first set and accomplished what no player had done in the last 15 days: take a set off Federer. The champion came right back breaking Nadal in his very first game of the second set; unfortunately, that was the only break Federer managed to convert in the five-hour final. Nadal broke back using the same tactics as he did in the first set: awesome forehand that just seemed to work and hammering away at Federer's backhand rally. It seemed like a repeat of the French Open final was inevitable: a straight-set trounce of the great champion. But the rain-interruption half way through the third set, when both players were still on serve, helped Federer rethink and recoup. He was simply unstoppable in the tie-break, serving four aces to force a fourth set.
If the game was extended to another set and yet another rain break, it was purely because of Nadal's loss of focus for a moment. Leading 5-2 in the tie-break of the fourth set and on his serve, the challenger played his two worst points of the entire match to give Federer a reprieve and a step-in. The momentum seemed to swing Federer's way. But Nadal was not the one to give up - he probably knew he couldn't let a 2007-final happen again. His athleticism was relentless as was his grit and determination. And finally came that one last shot that Federer couldn't handle. And in fading light, a champion faded into darkness while a new one was born.
Watching Nadal lift the cup with Federer's dejected face in the background, one wished this was one cup that could be split. It wasn't to be. As Nadal rightly put it, "I am very happy for me, but sorry for him, because he deserved this title, too."