Nadal Deservedly Wins Epic Final

6 07 2008

Yesterday Mr President told the loyal Textual Relations fanbase (all four of you) that he would be writing a bumper review of both Wimbledon finals but little did he know that a new record would be set for the longest men’s final in Wimbledon history. It was a thrill a minute but with the British weather doing its worst, today’s post was delayed.

Still, it was well worth it. We start, though, with a brief piece about yesterday’s Women’s final between the Williams sisters. Despite the fact that Maria Sharapova is hot, women’s tennis has rarely really interested Mr President. The matches are rarely as closely fought as those on the men’s side, possibly on account of them playing fewer sets

In fact Mr President still opposes women tennis players being paid the same as men for this very reason but if a close contest was what you were looking for, the battle between Venus and Serena finally lived up to the hype. Both brought their a-game, which made a change from their past encounters, where particularly Venus was perhaps guilty of unsurprisingly lacking her usual killer instinct against her beloved baby sister

Ultimately it came down, as it so often does, to who wanted it more, and for once it was Venus who showed the greater hunger. When asked by an interviewer why her biggest career moments (she’d been asked to name five) hadn’t included her sister, she simply replied “Because I haven’t beaten her yet”. Clearly it was something that ate away at her, but she responded to it by emphatically beating Serena in straight sets.

However if the women’s final was close (the scoreline hides it) you’d need a whole new word to describe events on Centre Court today. It was a big day for British sports as the British Grand Prix was also taking place, but all eyes were on SW19 as the two biggest stars in tennis went head to head again, in a renewal of a rivalry that has breathed fresh life into a sport that was in danger of becoming overly dominated by Federer.

All too often in sports we draw comparisons to greats of the past a little too readily, but the similarity between this tussle and the all-time great rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe is just too great to ignore. In 1981, as the Swede was chasing his sixth consecutive title, his greatest rival, a lefty, finally beat him to win his first one.

Everywhere you looked was another connection. Nadal bidding to be the first man since Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year, a classic fourth set tie break reminiscent of that one in 1980 (although arguably even better), the friendship between these two behemoths, and perhaps in Djokovic they’ve even found a willing Jimmy Connors to come between them. These two guys are rewriting history.

Both left everything they had out there, they traded blows until they were spent and it looked for the longest time as if they were simply too evenly matched. Yet perhaps the difference was that where Federer was at his very limit, Nadal had another gear to go into and he shifted into it at just the right time to snatch a deserved victory.

His first serve and volley came in the fifth set, but the fact he tried it at all shows the improvement in both his serve and volleying in the last year. Federer probably remains the best player on the circuit, but Nadal is the most improved. The scary part for Roger must be that the Spaniard is barely 22 years old. Just how good can he be?

One can’t help but feel that this victory for Nadal was like the one Federer enjoyed over Sampras in 2001. Back then it felt as if Sampras was handing over the torch to the young gun, who took that baton and ran with it, and this could mark a similar event for Rafa Nadal, beating the king of grass at his own game. He’s unbeatable on clay, so if he can develop a game for artificial surfaces the world may truly be his oyster.

For now, though, he can bask in the glory of a great year for Spanish sports.


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3 responses

7 07 2008
Bio

*sighs happily* I’m still basking in the afterglow of that match. It was the best match I’ve seen yet.

7 07 2008
Erik

What an epic five set match by the two titans of tennis. My eyes were glued to this marathon for 4 hours and 48 minutes! This was the greatest and perhaps the best quality tennis I have ever witnessed in any tournament. Congrats to Nadal for taking down the great Federer.

7 07 2008
Mr President

I think that was the best match of tennis we’ll ever see, some of the most technically brilliant strokes from Federer, and some shots by Nadal that simply defied belief. It was two men going mano-a-mano, slugging it out to be the best in the game, neither willing to give an inch but Nadal proving to be the better man on the day.

There was drama, passion, everything you could ask for as two of the greatest players the sport has ever seen gave it their everything. You could see how much it meant to Nadal as he celebrated too. He said afterwards that Federer is the greatest ever, and perhaps he’s right, however with his natural ability Nadal can be better still.

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