This is a soccer and cricket blog and generally that’s all you’ll find here, as that’s about all I write about. But there are always exceptions to every rule and last nights mens Wimbledon final has to be talked about, and becomes the first non soccer or cricket post on this blog.
In what was the longest final in Wimbledon history, almost 5 hours, excluding rain breaks, Rafa Nadal dethroned Roger Federer to become Wimbledon champion for the first time. In so doing he also become the first player to win consecutive French Open and Wimbledon titles since Borg in the early 80’s, the first Spanish winner of Wimbledon mens title in over 40 years, and most remarkably ended Federers 5 year unbeaten run on grass. Roger was going for his 6th consecutive Wimbledon crown, a feat that would give him the record previously held by Borg. It was fitting that it was Nadal who ended the Swiss legends 60 plus game run on grass as it was Federer who had ended Nadal’s 80 plus winning streak on clay.
Nadal shot into a 2 set lead before a rain break halted play for almost an hour. When they returned it was Federer who was stronger winning the 3rd set on a tie break, and then after a another rain interruption, winning the 4th set, also on a tie break, having saved 2 championship points. There was little to separate the two in the deciding set, until Nadal finally broke Federer and served out the match, 9-7 in the final set.
That all too brief summery of the match does little do justify the qualityof the match. This will go down as perhaps the best final ever. The young pretender to the thrown storming to a 2 set lead before the champion claws his way back with a brilliant fight back to level the match. The final set resembled two heavy weight boxers exchanging blow after blow until finally a knockout punch lands.
The match was a contrast in styles with Nadals power and speed up against the style and sophistication of Federersgame. Even while not playing his best, in truth Nadal didn’t let him rather than Roger having an off day. the 5 times defending champion showed tremendous guts and determination in fighting his way back, not giving up his title without a real fight. Both men will no doubt be unable to get out of bed this morning such was the exertion of last nights battle. What was truly remarkable was the way each played the big points. Federer seemed to find an ace whenever he was facing a break point, while Nadal ran down each and every ball before unleashing a winner that had to be seen to believed – time and time again. Indeed the two best shots of the year, one from each player, came in the space of a couple of minutes, when each was staring down the gauntlet.
I don’t think the game has seen someone with the speed, power and energy of Nadal. Throughout the 5 sets he never let up, firing barrage after barrage at Federer. The way he hit his lines and angles was incredible. His shots were all there when called upon and his game plan was clearly thought out and executed. There was hardly a serve from Nadal that didn’t go to Federers back hand. A worthy champion was found last night, and the right man to end Federers remarkable run.
After the French Open final, when Nadal demolished Federer, many began to write off the world number one. After last night they may do so again. To do so would be foolish. Federer is still the most complete player the game has ever seen, and may still go on to prove that he is the best ever. His run had to come to an end at some stage and he was unlucky to run into a player in the form of his life at a time when no one has an answer to the Spanish star. The hard courts at the US Open are also Federers surface so there is every chance he will be back in the final in a few months time. The way Nadal is playing you wouldn’t bet against a Federer/Nadal final there either. I do believe however that Roger will again be in next years Wimbledon final, making it 7 in a row, and he will win it. He is far from over.
For the sport of tennis this can only be a good thing. Federer has a competitor who really can challenge him for the title of worlds best player, and their battles can only popularise the sport that has seen a viewing decline in recent times.
For Nadal, who is a huge soccer fan, this has been a great week for Spain. The Euro 2008 winners now have a Wimbledon champion too. The king of clay rules on the lawns too – for this year.
(picture from thetelegraphy.co.uk)