Federer employed all his variety to unnerve del Potro early in the fourth set. He won eight straight points en route to a fifth and shook off losing a break advantage in the ensuing decider to secure the win on his second opportunity, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4—blasting a forehand of his own to bring Court Philippe-Chatrier to its feet.
“I can’t remember a five-set match I’ve played that was so moving,” Federer said at the time. “They wanted me to do something magical… When I needed the support of the French crowd, they were here with me, supporting me.”
That weekend, Federer avenged Nadal with a win over Söderling and resumed rewriting the history books.
THE MEANING: With Sampras’ record tied, Federer came to Wimbledon eager to reclaim the title he’d so heartbreakingly lost the year prior. He dropped just one set to reach a seventh straight final at the All England Club and play old rival Andy Roddick.
As Sampras watched live on Centre Court, Federer played another epic and ultimately broke the on-fire American for a 16-14 final-set win what, at the time, seemed like an insurmountable 15th major title.