Top 20 sporting moments: The 2008 Wimbledon final

Rafa Nadal - Top 20 sporting moments of the noughties: The 2008 Wimbledon final

The taste of success: Rafael Nadal performs his customary check on the qualifty of the trophy after beating Roger Federer in the greatest Wimbledon final ever
What: Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 Wimbledon Final.
When: July 06, 2008.
Where: Centre Court, Wimbledon.
Watch: YouTube

Somehow it adds to the theatre of the 2008 Wimbledon final to learn that Roger Federer’s future wife intercepted him during the first rain-delay. “YOU are Roger Federer,” Mirka told her boyfriend quite sternly.

Jon Wertheim’s superb book about the match, ‘Strokes of Genius’, also records how Rafael Nadal’s uncle and coach, Toni, used that same rain-delay to have a siesta in the locker room.

Still, Toni Nadal wasn’t looking so composed later that evening. Deep into that fifth set, as his nephew closed in on his first Wimbledon trophy, Uncle Toni appeared to be biting his fingernails down to his elbows.

If Centre Court’s retractable roof had been ready a year earlier, would this final have been quite so dramatic? You would think not.

This match surely would not have been the same without the rain delays and the near-darkness of the fifth set, when the players struggled to make out the ball. Federer thought that was unfair, that he had almost been ‘playing blind’ when he lost both his Wimbledon trophy and the world No 1 ranking to the Majorcan.

That evening, we discovered that Federer has a weakness…

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