Federer, Nadal & the Greatest Match Ever—An Oral History, Part 2 of 12

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The outfits were just one of the contrasts between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. (Getty Images)

Few tennis matches have seemed as fated to be classics as the one that was played on Wimbledon’s Centre Court on July 6, 2008. The skies over southwest London were ominous that afternoon, but anticipation had rarely run higher. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were about to face off in another final at the All England Club.

TENNIS Magazine presents: an oral history—and 10th anniversary celebration—of the greatest match ever.


TRAILER: Strokes of Genius, sponsored by Humana


Part 2: Anticipation (follow the entire oral history at TENNIS.com/StrokesOfGenius)

David Law, BBC Radio Commentator and host of "The Tennis Podcast": I began the match in the very back row of the stadium, in our second commentary box on BBC Radio 5 Live. Every person driving a car in the UK that wanted to follow the final would have been listening to us; and that felt like just about everyone in the country that day.

There was a sense of anticipation unlike any final I had experienced before. With two Wimbledon finals between them already, and Nadal’s Roland Garros destruction of Federer a couple of weeks earlier—followed by his first title on grass, at Queen’s Club—it did feel like, if ever Rafa was going to do it, this was going to be it.

There was a short rain delay to start, but that only heightened the tension. I remember seeing the two of them on the TV in my commentary box, waiting to come on court. Federer dressed in a cardigan-style sweater and white trousers, Nadal in a sleeveless shirt. The contrast couldn’t have been more stark. Federer looked as if he was about to attend an English garden party for a cocktail, Nadal looked as if he was on his way to a wrestling ring.

The noise that greeted them as they stood up from their courtside chairs is something I will never forget. My first words were, “The two best tennis players on the planet by a country mile.”


A LANDMARK DOCUMENTARY DURING THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS EVENT IN SPORTS, CELEBRATING THE UNPARALLELED FEDERER-NADAL RIVALRY AND 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREATEST MATCH EVER PLAYED.

In association with All England Lawn & Tennis Club, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment and Amblin Television.  Directed by Andrew Douglas.

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