"WIMBLEDON — Rafael Nadal’s first Grand Slam title off clay was never going to be easy, but who knew that the Spaniard would have to come through arguably the greatest men’s final ever in his phenomenal 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 victory over five-time defending champion Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final? Maybe only the 22-year-old Spaniard, who defined heroic in an epic four-hour, 48-minute contest in which Federer equally proved deserving of the title, but in the end, was stopped by a indomitable man who was finally able to bury his nerves and close out his fifth Grand Slam with a extraordinary fifth-set display. “Probably my hardest loss, by far,” a despondent Federer said. Had he lost the match, where he was in control in every set, Nadal may have never mentally recovered from the defeat. As hard as he’s worked to become a better fast-court player, winning major championships over legends such as Federer on quick courts are all about seizing the few chances you have earned. It took Nadal until dusk nearly fell to do so, when after watching Federer come up with three rip-roaring winners on his first three match points, the 12-time Grand Slam winner finally shrugged and nudged an easy forehand into the net in a match where winners ruled the day. Nadal then slid on to the few blades of grass that were left in the middle of the baseline, rolled around in the dirt, ran up to hug his family and friends and then scooted over to the Royal Box to shake hands with Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain, the first player to make the approach to royalty in history. “It’s a special feeling,” who became the first Spaniard since Manuel Santana in ‘66 to win Wimbledon. “It’s unbelievable for me to have a title here. I always, when I was a kid, I dream to play here, but to win is amazing.”"
"It’s the greatest stage in sport; a cathedral that inspires. Beloved Wimbledon, which, according to Virginia Wade, combines the enthusiasm of a teenager and the wisdom of a grandmother, is our Mother Church, an arena that rarely falters. Plus, with its new roof set to be in place next summer, this was to be the last year Centre Court would be at the mercy of London’s moody skies. Certainly, the tennis gods would bless us. Little did we know. History is a jealous mistress and many a supposedly compelling Slam final proves to be merely a dreary, anti-climatic dud. Still, few observers bristled when Pat Cash predicted that the final “could be one of the great matches of all time.” All week, Boris Becker informed us that Federer wanted to break every record in existence and Roger himself openly admitted that, for him, history was a key motivation. In fact, there was so much history on the line that John McEnroe (semi-correctly) quipped, “We’ve got to go back to 1886, when Geronimo was surrendering and there were just 10 people, including Geronimo’s cousin, in the draw.” "