As Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal begin to ease through the early stages of the draw at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, it seems a good time to think back to four years ago, when the two stepped foot on Centre Court and dueled -- for the third straight year -- in what many believe was the greatest tennis match of all time.
It was the longest Wimbledon final ever in terms of time -- 4 hours, 48 minutes. And even strictly on paper, it was about as closely contested as any final could be: Nadal getting a slight edge in the first two sets at 6-4; Federer eking out the next two in tiebreakers won by two points each; and, of course, the dramatic 16-game fifth set.
Since that time, both players have returned to the hallowed Centre Court for the Wimbledon final at least one other time, with each notching another victory -- but not at the expense of the other. Surely, many fans are hoping for another Federer-Nadal Wimbledon rematch. That hope seems to have even more urgency this year.
Federer, now verging on 31 years of age, seems to have ever so slowly lost the pristine, effortless, dominant form that launched him to a record 16 Grand Slam victories and the almost-unanimous label of "greatest ever." With the recent utter dominance of Novak Djokovic and Nadal in the major tournaments, it appears Federer's window to strike for at least one more Slam victory is narrow. That chance may be now, in the tournament that he dominated up until 2008.
Whether or not we see Federer and Nadal in the 2012 Wimbledon final, we can still relish in the 2008 final. In the more immediate context, it signified a break in Federer's dominance on his most cherished surface and a breakthrough for Nadal in his first Grand Slam victory off the clay of Roland Garros. In the larger context, it was a celebration of two of the greatest players of all time and the ultimate accentuation of what many believe has been the greatest tennis rivalry of all time.
Even if the final chapter of the Federer-Nadal Wimbledon saga has already occurred, the majesty of that 2008 classic should remain with us for as long as professional tennis endures.
Although he loves eggs Benedict, Ryan Sherriff believes there is nothing better than "Breakfast at Wimbledon." He started watching the tournament, as well as developing a love for playing and watching tennis, over 20 years ago.
- Sports & Recreation
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal