Sunday, July 6, 2008 Roger Federer entered Wimbledon’s Center Court to face his eternal rival Rafael Nadal and try to conquer his sixth consecutive Championships title, in a domain that has been unchallenged since 2003.
But the Spanish player, barely 22 years old at the time, was not of the same opinion. Nadal won the first two sets with a score of 6-4, putting a large mortgage on the final victory. Federer managed with an extraordinary tennis to put the match back in equal thanks to two tie-breaks in the third and fourth sets, also canceling two match points.
In the fifth and final partial, Nadal finally snatched the service from the Swiss and the game ended on the score of 9-7, with the Majorcan who for the first time found himself raising the prestigious Wimbledon trophy. In a recent interview on Eurosport, Justine Henin and Mats Wilander talked about how difficult and special Rafael Nadal’s 2008 Wimbledon win was.
Wilander on Rafael Nadal’s 2008 Wimbledon win
“I will always remember one image coming from the French Open to Wimbledon,” Justine Henin said. “I don’t really remember what year it was, but I saw Rafael Nadal on the practice courts over there, and, you know, hitting harder and more focused.
Carlos (Moya) was talking about the focus, you can see it’s in him. He reminds me also a lot (of myself) because sometimes he looks anxious, he has doubts but it looks like the hard work gives the confidence. And I could see in his eyes that there was a mission, also to really prove he was really good on other surfaces.
When I won on hardcourt after the French Open, it was two months later at the US Open. For me to win in the United States, it was far from my culture. It was tough for me. But to win somewhere else in another kind of surface was something huge.
So I’m pretty sure (it was important) for Rafa to prove that to the tennis world because everyone was just talking about his game on clay. And to prove that he could win on grass (was huge). It wasn’t on hard, it was on grass.
Yeah, I thought it was something really amazing.” Concurring with the Belgian, Mats Wilander added that it was the Wimbledon win that truly made Rafael Nadal a superstar. “I think that turned him into a superstar. I had never thought that with his style, he could (win Wimbledon),” said Wilander.