Rafael Nadal’s crushing 6-1 6-3 win over Roger Federer in the Rome final was a big let down for the fans who have been treated by some epic encounters between the two of tennis’ most successful players.
Federer and Nadal are arguably the two greatest players to play the game and tennis fans have been lucky to see two greats encounter each other 30 times with the Spaniard winning the head-to-head battle by 20 matches to 10.
In this article, we rate the top five battles between these two champions.
5. Australian Open 2009 Final (Nadal won 7-5 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-2)
Both the players reached the tournament’s final in contrasting fashion. While Federer made little work of Andy Roddick in the semi finals, Nadal was stretched to the limit by compatriot Fernando Verdasco. After prevailing in an epic five-setter, many believed that the Spaniard might have run out of gas to take on his mighty foe in the title match. However, they were to be proven wrong.
In one of the competition’s most riveting contest, Nadal drew first blood, clinching a tight first set 7-5 before Federer restored parity by winning the second. With tension mounting in the third, Nadal prevailed in the tiebreaker but was taken to the decider by Federer who notched up the fourth set 6-3.
Federer had the momentum with him but like countless other occasions, his nerve and mental strength against Nadal failed him, who closed out the championship with a blistering display, taking the final set 6-2 to hoist his maiden Australian Open title.
4. ATP Master Series Miami Final 2005 (Federer won 2-6 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-1)
Eight years ago, Nadal and Federer squared off in the Miami Open final which will be remembered by many for the comeback made by the latter after having got his back pressed against the wall.
A rampant Nadal started the proceedings ominously, firing on all cylinders to open up a two-set lead. He then had Federer on the ropes with an early break of serve and led 4-1 in the third before Federer rallied to clinch it on the tiebreak.
It was the breakthrough the Swiss was looking for as he took the game to Nadal, dismantling the then 19-year-old in the final two sets to seal an emphatic come-from-behind win.
3. Wimbledon 2007 final (Federer won 7-6 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-2)
Piqued by third successive final loss at the French Open to his clay court nemesis, Federer was desperate to exact revenge on Nadal in the 2007’s Wimbledon Championship. After taking the closely fought first set 7-6, Nadal levelled things up in the second and seemed to have cornered the Swiss maestro.
Federer kept his cool though in the third set to claim it 7-6 but looked completely out of sorts in the fourth, as Nadal staged a spirited comeback.
Facing a couple of break points at two games all in the decider, Federer fought his way out of trouble by coming up with some big serves and went on to break Nadal twice to secure his fifth successive Wimbledon trophy, matching the historic feat of the great Bjorn Borg.
2. ATP Masters Series Rome 2006 final (Nadal won 6-7 7-6 6-4 2-6 7-6)
Excitement, tension, intensity and drama; the Rome 2006 final had everything in it. A match, which stretched over five hours, both the players traded blows in this roller coaster affair which could easily have gone either way.
Having sealed the first set on a tiebreak, Federer failed to capitalize on the advantage as Nadal won the next two sets. Federer bounced back in the fourth to force a decider and had two championship points at his disposal at 5-4. Nadal, though, saved them both and pulled off a memorable win in the final set tiebreak to retain his reputation of being Federer’s nemesis.
1. Wimbledon 2008 final (Nadal won 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7)
The 2008 Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal will arguably go down as the greatest tennis match of all times. Having opened up a two sets to love lead, Nadal in many people’s opinion had sealed Federer’s six-year long Wimbledon reign, as no player in the open era history had ever won a grand slam final after being two sets down.
However, Federer made the unthinkable possible and was at one stage just two points away from winning the title. He also saved two championship points in the fourth set, one with an eye-catching backhand pass, to send the crowd in a frenzy.
With the quality of tennis having reached to impossible heights, both these warriors were involved in a thrilling decider. With the score reading 7-7 and just when everyone thought there was no end to this dramatic finale, Nadal finally broke the Federer serve and then served it out to complete a memorable victory and leave the entire crowd at its feet applauding.
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