Archive for July, 2008

federer vs. nadal: best tennis match ever?

July 7, 2008

Yes there is a reason for my hiatus to this blog, and I promise that I will definitely be back in full force in the future, but for now I’m still on a break. However, the experience I had yesterday morning was too good, too surreal, too euphoric, to pass up for a blog entry. Federer played Nadal in the Wimbledon finals for the third year in a row. The previous two meetings, Federer came out the victor. Now, Federer was bidding for his sixth straight Wimbledon victory, a feat that would put him past Borg’s five in a row in the record books. Meanwhile, Nadal was bidding to become the first player since Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back: not an easy feat considering the two slams are only a couple weeks apart. The past few years, it seemed like the Wimbledon grass was Federer’s home court, while the clay of Paris was Nadal’s. However, with each passing year, Nadal has been getting better, beating Federer more easily at the French, and making it tougher for Federer to win at Wimbledon. This year Nadal finally took the crown in what could be the best tennis match, ever, and most definitely the best Grand Slam final in the history of tennis. Federer lost the first two sets 4-6, 4-6. He was actually up 4-2 in the second set, but choked and ended up losing it. Then, with the mental fortitude of a champion, he clawed himself into a third set tiebreaker, winning it decisively. The fourth set was even tougher, as it pushed into another tiebreak, and Nadal was actually up 5-2, and was ready to serve the match away! Fighting off multiple match points, strike that, championship points, Federer came up with monumental aces and laser like winners, seemingly out of nowhere, maybe from the tennis gods. Since there are no tiebreakers in the fifth set, Federer and Nadal fought it out through the waning light, barely able to see each other on the other side of the court, finally finishing with a less than triumphant Federer unforced error to end the battle at 9-7. Oh, and I forgot to mention the two rain delays scattered throughout the match which upped the tension and which allowed the players to stay fresh and play at a consistently high level of tennis, and which also allowed the audience to reflect on and appreciate the epic match they were watching. As the trophies were handed out, you could hardly see the players, only illuminated by the flash bulbs of digital cameras around the stadium. This was a classic, ending with both players crying, defeated, and at the same time winners. This was the heavyweight struggle that you tell your kids about years later. An extended fifth set, two rain delays, changes in momentum, clutch shots, a storied rivalry, Wimbledon grass, #1 vs. #2, 17 grand slam titles between the two, and neither player dropping their level of play: all the ingredients of the best match ever.


I have to say though, it’s unfortunate for Federer that the fifth set doesn’t go to a tiebreaker, or else he most likely would have won that. Will Federer win another grand slam this year, now that he’s lost in three straight? Probably. You have to understand Wimbledon and grass should no longer be considered his favored surface. Grass is now slow, almost as slow as clay, which allows for people like Nadal to unleash their lethal topspin. The U.S. Open now has the fastest courts, and should cater more to Federer’s serving and shot making prowess. Some interesting food for thought: although most people agree that the title of the greatest tennis player of all time goes to Federer, including Federer fans like me, there are some who say the greatest is Nadal, right in front of our eyes the whole time. Well, let’s see, there is a good point there: at age 22, Nadal has 5 slams already, whereas Federer only had one at that age. Nadal seems to be constantly improving, while Federer’s level of play lately hasn’t been his best. There are a few factors to consider though: Federer could be a late bloomer, Nadal’s style of game could be too punishing on his body, resulting in injuries (he already tapes up his knees!), and there’s still the question of Nadal’s performance on hard court slams. Although I still give the title to Federer, I definitely have to say that Nadal has at least inspired me to experiment more with an extreme top spin game (Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex test drive, here I come!). The next few years should be quite interesting.