Rafael Nadal of Mallorca is the new Wimbledon Men’s Champion. Today he defeated the five time champion and World number 1, Roger Federer in a 5 set emotionally charged roller coaster of a match. I am willing to go so far as to call this the greatest tennis match I have ever witnessed and feel extremely lucky to have seen such a great performance by tennis’ two great players. The Rafa-Fed rivalry is one of Tennis’ greatest rivalries (Bjorg-McEnroe, Sampras-Agassi, Evert-Navratilova, Graf-Navratilova are some others). These two champions are not only great tennis players but have deep respect and humility for each other’s game. It could not have been more evident than today, amongst the million flash bulbs on a near dark Center Court of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. This is what Fed had to say after the trophy presentation:
“I tried everything, Rafa is a deserving champion. He just played fantastic. It was the worst opponent on the best court.” He was emotional alright, he would have surpassed Bjorg’s 5 consecutive victories today, he would have made history. His tennis coupled with his modesty is what makes him a true sporting legend and not just a statistical champion.
As for Nadal, he is truly the deserving champion, an aggressive player with nerves of steel and grounded feet. It was the longest Wimbledon Finals ever played – 4 hours 48 minutes of unscripted thriller tennis, two rain delays and all shots from the tennis book and more. Rafa had 4 Championship points before he eventually stopped the Federer Express (65 consecutive wins on grass).
He is not ready to call himself a great player yet – “He’s still No. 1,” Nadal said. “He’s still the best. He’s still five-time champion here and I only have one, so for me it is very, very important.” More power to you Rafa.