Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Roger Federer and I were on the limit'

‘Roger Federer and I were on the limit’

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will team up at the fifth edition of the Laver Cup in London on Friday night. It will be Roger’s last match in his career, ending his tennis journey and heading into retirement. Roger and Rafa have played many memorable encounters on the Tour, and one of the finest came in the 2008 Wimbledon final.

Making significant progress on the fastest surface with low bounce, Nadal reached two Wimbledon finals in 2006 and 2007. He challenged Federer and prepared for another assault in 2008 after the fourth Roland Garros crown in a row.

Nadal and Federer were the All England Club’s favourites, passing six obstacles and reaching the third straight final. Since 2003, Roger had 40 consecutive wins in the cathedral of tennis, and Nadal broke that incredible streak after a memorable 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 victory in four hours and 48 minutes!

Thus, Rafa became the first player since Bjorn Borg with a “Channel Slam,” adding the fifth Major to his tally just after turning 22! Nadal won five points more than Federer in a thrilling battle, fending off 12 out of 13 break opportunities and earning four breaks to prevail and stand victorious in one of the most significant moments in tennis history.

Rafa stayed in touch with the five-time champion in the shortest points up to four strokes, which was crucial for his success. The Spaniard improved his initial shot to reach Roger’s level and delivered incredible tennis on those break chances to suffer only one break.

Nadal moved in front in the opener’s third game and survived a scare on serve at 5-4 to fend off two break chances and clinch the opener. Federer forged a 4-1 advantage in set number two before getting broken at 4-2 to bring Nadal back into contention.

Rafael Nadal ousted Roger Federer after an epic battle at Wimbledon 2008.

With momentum on his side, Rafa grabbed another break at 4-4 with a forehand winner. He served for the set in the next game and repelled a break chance to move two sets to love in front and closer to the finish line.

As a true champion, Roger bounced back in sets three and four and prevailed in a tight fourth-set tie break after being 5-2 down to force a decider and gain a boost. In the final set’s fifth game, the players left the court due to rain and returned half an hour later to continue the incredible encounter.

Roger created a break chance with a forehand down the line winner at 4-3. Nadal stayed calm and denied it with a smash winner before landing a forehand winner for 4-4. Rafa earned two break opportunities at 5-5 with a forehand down the line winner and failed to convert any.

The match went to the distance, and the Spaniard earned the crucial break following the Swiss’ massive forehand error at 7-7. Rafa hit a service winner at deuce in game 16 and moved over the top following Roger’s forehand mistake to celebrate one of his most glorious victories.

“For me, the 2008 Wimbledon final is one of the most emotional encounters of my career. The 2007 final loss hurt a lot, and I thought I would never get another chance to fight for the title at the All England Club. A year later , I returned to the final, and it was an epic one.

It had everything, and the people who saw it on TV have no idea how dark it became in the last couple of games; both Roger and I were on the limit,” Rafael Nadal said.

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