The words "best ever" are overused, especially when dealing with athletic competition. But nothing from sport’s modern era is more deserving of the label than Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s tennis final between clay-court master Rafael Nadal (left) and five-time defending champion Roger Federer.
The No. 2-ranked Spaniard Nadal, facing Switzerland’s Federer in the Wimbledon final for the third consecutive year, beat the world’s top-ranked player in five sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7, in a match that lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes.
After leading 2-sets-to-none, Nadal lost the next two sets in tiebreaks and still won. Who in the world loses two tiebreaks and still wins a match? It almost NEVER happens. Sometimes losing one tiebreak is enough to send a person into a downward spiral the rest of a match.
If this wasn’t the best tennis match of all time, the sport would be far more popular than it is because the match to top this one would’ve been one hell of a spectacle. Last year’s five-set thrill ride between these two at Wimbledon was great, but it doesn’t come close to what took place Sunday. The comebacks, the rain delays, the knee-injury scare, John McEnroe awkwardly hugging a teary Federer during an NBC post-match interview. This match had it all.
This match will put an extra spotlight on tennis for a little while, but it won’t last unless Federer and Nadal meet again in the next Grand Slam final — the U.S. Open in August.
Federer hadn’t lost on a grass court since 2002 until Sunday. And Nadal hadn’t won a Grand Slam title on a surface other than clay — until Sunday. The U.S. Open is played on a hard court, which is a faster surface than grass and clay.
If Federer and Nadal reach the final in Flushing, N.Y., we might be in for a real treat.
Photo by Anja Niedringhaus / Associated Press