Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wimbledon 08 ..07 reloaded

Almost a year ago, I had written a post on the finals of wimbledon(Reference). And it's time to write again, especially because history was scripted by two friendly 'rivals' in the centre court at the very heart of England. The five set epic between Fedrer and Nadal is undoubtedly one of the best that one has seen in the recent years. If you read my last year's write-up, you'll realize that Nadal's win wasn't as dramatic as people say it is. I would once again re-iterate what I had said last year: this doesn't make Federer No.2, it only shows that he is beatable. Being an admirer of Fed, I would have felt bad had he lost to anyone but Nadal.

While Fed is a class act, a mix of grace and power, Rafa is actually the exact opposite. He seems brutish (or so his muscles seem to indicate) but if you look beyond that, his strengths are top spin, depth and accuracy. Quite unlike Fed, Rafa banks on the base line and wins rallies. Any observant fan can easily understand this by comparing the number of Aces fired in by Fed (24 vs 6). That said, Rafa did punch in some powerful forehand smackers that won him his first break point. Quite in contrast to last year, the match began ominously for Fed, the score board reading 2-1 and Nadal notching up his games steadily. Fighting to save the match in the fourth set, Federer played the most amazing tennis I have ever seen to claw back into the game. A couple unforced errors and double faults by Nadal also helped his cause.

While Nadal had clearly been the better among the two on the rain hit day, he definitely wasn't perfect either. Having got ample of opportunities to wrap up the game in the fourth set, it would be fair to say that they were pitiably squandered away by double faults - a rare sign of nervousness from the raquet of Nadal, which otherwise played near perfect tennis. It was the sheer resilience of the FedEx.. that dragged the match into the final set which was an ode to the legacy of these two which will be sung in the ages to come. The duel ended when Fedrer netted a backhand and the FedEx was derailed finally after a long time in this decade. The King of grass was fettered for the first time in 67 matches and six years. The disappointment was writ large on the face of the crowd but it was heartening to see them give a standing ovation to a worthy heir to the crown of Wimbledon.

It is an undeniable fact that Nadal has definitely been the better among the two in the past year - He retained his the clay stronghold and conquered the grass for the first time in his career (Oh yeah, he's the second best in grass!!). Either would have equalled the Borg record, but this was special, the act of conquering the opponent in his turf. The part I liked the best was the courage and humility with which they accepted the reality - Fedrer accepted that he was outclassed today and Rafa acknowledged that he was still at No.2.

Having said this, I would close with the very same words that I had said last year -

Whatever be the result of the match, one thing is pretty evident.. these two are the rulers of modern day tennis be it grass or clay... They have simply discarded the others from either versions of the game.