Roger Federer went in to the final having won five consecutive Wimbledon titles and was the undisputed master of the grass court game. His opponent, Rafael Nadal, was more at home on clay courts where the slower paced game suited his gritty, energetic style.
Federer had breezed to the final and all eyes were on him, expectant that a sixth title was his for the taking. Nadal had shown guts and determination just to get to the Wimbledon showpiece, but few people gave him a chance of unseating the king of grass, having been beaten twice before by the Swiss star at this stage of the All England Club tournament before.
Just a few weeks earlier, Federer had been humiliated in the French Open final by Nadal, losing in straight sets 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, so this was the perfect opportunity for Federer to get revenge against his old rival. However, Nadal was not the kind of player to accept defeat easily, even when the odds were stacked against him and much to the surprise of a packed centre court crowd and the watching world, the Spaniard raced in to a two set lead, winning each of them 6-4.
Federer was at Nadal’s mercy and staring down the barrel of his first defeat ever in a Wimbledon final. The Swiss Maestro began to find his game, producing pinpoint shot after pinpoint shot to deny Nadal an easy passage to the title. Federer forced the third set to a tiebreak and under incredible pressure won it 7-5 to the delight of the vociferous watching crowd.
The fourth set was even more intense than the third as both players knew they could not afford to lose it. Long rallies and brave winners were becoming a feature as another tense tiebreak loomed. Showing the grit of a true champion, Federer won it again 10-8 to take a heroic fourth set into an epic fifth.
With darkness beginning to fall, the level of tennis was growing, becoming some of the greatest ever seen in a grand slam final. The centre court were captivated, as were millions watching at home as these two tennis greats fought tooth and nail to be crowned Wimbledon champion.
The title would come down to which player cracked first and a marathon deciding set entered into a fifteenth game with Federer serving at 7-7. It was the Swiss great who buckled first, Nadal had the crucial break and would serve for the Championship.
Already the longest Wimbledon men’s final ever, Federer saved one match point to prolong the affair further before Nadal had another match point and saw Federer hit a shot into the net to secure him his first Wimbledon crown.
The level of tennis was unbelievable, as was the tension and drama. However, it was Nadal who prevailed against the odds in surely the greatest grand slam final of all time.
Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7