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

“Roger Federer and I were at 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 of his career, ending his tennis journey and retiring. Roger and Rafa have had many memorable encounters on the tour and one of the best came in the 2008 Wimbledon final.

Nadal made significant strides on the fastest, low-bounce surface, reaching two Wimbledon finals in 2006 and 2007. He challenged Federer and prepared for another attack in 2008 after the fourth consecutive Roland Garros crown.

Nadal and Federer were favorites of the All England Club, overcoming six obstacles and reaching the third straight final. Since 2003, Roger has had 40 consecutive victories in the tennis cathedral, 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!

Rafa thus became the first player since Bjorn Borg with a ‘channel slam’ to add a fifth Major to his tally just after turning 22! Nadal won five points more than Federer in a thrilling battle, fending off 12 breaks from 13 and earning four breaks to prevail and emerge victorious in one of the defining moments in tennis history.

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

Nadal took the lead in game three of the opener, surviving a scare on serve at 5-4 to fend off two break chances and win the opener. Federer forged a 4-1 advantage in the second set before being broken 4-2 to put Nadal back in contention.

Rafael Nadal ousted Roger Federer after an epic fight 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 fended off a break chance to move two sets up and closer to the finish line.

A true champion, Roger rallied in sets three and four and prevailed in a tight tie break in set number four after falling 5-2 down to force a decider and receive a boost. In the fifth game of the final set, the players left the pitch 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 for a 4-3 winner. Nadal stayed calm and denied it with a smash winner before landing a forehand winner for 4-4. At 5-5, Rafa created two break chances with a forehand down the line and couldn’t convert any.

The match went into the distance and the Spaniard earned the decisive break after a massive forehand error by the Swiss at a score of 7:7. Rafa hit a service winner at Deuce in Game 16 and went over the top after Roger’s forehand error to celebrate one of his most glorious wins.

“For me, the 2008 Wimbledon final is one of the most emotional encounters of my career. The final defeat in 2007 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 for the finale, and it was epic.

It had it all, and people who watched it on TV have no idea how dark it’s gotten in the last few games; Both Roger and I were on the limit,” said Rafael Nadal.

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