Reliving The Greatest- Wimbledon 2008
|06.23.09 at 3:48 pm ET|
If you didn’t get a chance to see the historic Wimbledon final of 2008, you really missed something special. Any sports fan that watched this terrific match where young phenom Rafael Nadal defeated defending 5-time consecutive champion Roger Federer was instantly captivated by not only the class that both players showed, but also the level of which their play was at.
With the tournament starting up again this week, let’s put in perspective how great last year’s final really was.
The 4-hour 48-minute epic battle is considered by many to be the best tennis match ever. The match had everything that a tennis fan could ask for: scintillating tennis, dramatic twists and turns, and sportsmanship on and off the court.
Former world number one player and now commentator, John McEnroe, offered his words about the final, saying that indeed it was the best ever.
But I would even go as far as to say it was the greatest sporting event to take place in the past year.
Since the match, we have seen other tightly contested finals in the NFL, NHL, and Champions League. But none of them could match how great the intensity that every point brought.
Throughout the whole match, this kind of intensity was shown at all times by both players. The drive that both of them had to win was incredible and they completely sacrificed their bodies for every point, every ball, in order to be crowned a champion.
They were hampered by darkness, rain delays, fatigue, and emotions. The match was also historic because those rain delays will never be seen again at Wimbledon. This year, the club will unveil a new retractable roof that has been build over Centre Court so that no matter the conditions, matches can still continue during rain or shine.
Nadal had been on record saying that Wimbledon was his number one goal and he would do anything to win just once at the All England Club. It took him what seemed like forever but he finally captured victory.
Just last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins captured the Stanley Cup Final by defeating the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit in game seven of the series. Many fans, including myself, believe that a game seven in the Cup Finals is one of the best moments that sports can ever produce. But that entire series still pales in comparison to what was witnessed that day at Wimbledon.
The match’s score in itself just shows how tightly contested the match was. A true five setter, the final was: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7.
In the cup finals, games were decided in regulation and the players, while still giving their all, did not have to experience any rain delays or tough conditions. Towards the end of the match, it was getting so dark that both players had a tough time seeing the ball, but neither player wanted to stop the match. They just kept playing and playing.
Another sporting event that reminds me of last year’s final was during the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament this year when Syracuse outlasted UConn in an outstanding six overtimes. But the difference between the two is that neither Syracuse or UConn went on to win the tournament. The game itself was fantastic but in the end it didn’t count for that much.
This match marked the end of Federer’s 5-year run as Wimbledon champion and also can be looked at as a turning point in his career. Nadal went on to claim the number one ranking soon after and in many fans eyes, became the best player in the world when he won that match. Neither Syracuse or UConn could say that they were the best this year, as that title clearly belonged to the North Carolina Tar Heels.
However in light of recent events at the 2009 French Open, the storyline going into Wimbledon this year is a bit different. After winning the French for four consecutive years from 2005-2008, this year proved to be different for Nadal, as he was upended in the fourth round by Robin Soderling. This paved the way for Federer to take down Soderling in the finals and win his first ever French Open title, completing the coveted career grand slam. A title that many believed he would never capture with Rafa standing in his way.
Greg Garber of ESPN.com also looked into reliving last year’s match in his latest column, shown here.
So the stage is set for this year’s tournament. But before it starts, take a look at this video for a sample of what transpired last year, and why nothing may ever top that superb match.
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