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 11: The ultimate in competing
Brad Gilbert, ESPN tennis analyst; former ATP player and coach: It was already dark when they went back out on court for the last time; I wasn’t sure they would even try. By then, I felt like I was watching something huge, like Borg vs. Mac, when Borg lost the tiebreaker and still won the fifth set. That’s what Rafa did this time. He showed some amazing mental fortitude to find a way to put the fourth set out of his mind and win. To me, Rafa’s win in the fifth set is the ultimate in competing.
Afterward, we went up to the studio to talk about it, but what do you say? We had Rafa come in, and sometimes I ask players if I can have one of their racquets to put up in my shop. I asked Rafa if I could have one of the Babolats he used in the match. You never know how someone might react in those situations, but he just said, “Yeah, come down to the locker room.” So I went down there, he signed it—and now that Babolat is framed and hanging up.
Follow the entire oral history at TENNIS.com/StrokesOfGenius
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.