On this day: Rafael Nadal downs Roger Federer for third Roland Garros crown



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On this day: Rafael Nadal downs Roger Federer for third Roland Garros crown

Between 2005-2008, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had forged a great rivalry at Roland Garros, playing in the semi-final in 2005 and three straight finals in the following years, with Nadal emerging as a winner in all of those encounters to establish his Parisian supremacy.

Just like in 2005 and 2006, Roger was able to take a set out of Rafa in 2007 final that took place on June 10 but it wasn't enough for an overall win, with Nadal celebrating a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in three hours and 10 minutes (2006 final lasted for more than three hours as well) for his third straight Roland Garros crown.

Despite the fact he sealed the deal in four sets, Rafa had to work hard and produce his best tennis in order to topple Roger, saving unreal 16 out of 17 break points to limit the damage in his games and keep the pressure on the other side of the net.

Federer managed to outplay Nadal in the winners department although that proved not to be enough, spraying almost 60 unforced errors and missing a chance to at least force the fifth set and push Rafa to the limits. The Spaniard created ten break points and notched four breaks of serve to wrap up the title with just one set lost in seven encounters.

Federer managed to avoid longer rallies in his games but Rafa spoiled his plans after creating the gap in the shortest points up to four strokes, overpowering his rival by a slim margin in the more extended exchanges as well to secure the win.

It was a fine start from the Swiss and a smash winner in game four gave him two break points, only to be denied by Nadal who saved them both and held after a backhand error from Roger. The Spaniard was yet to find his rhythm, facing two more break points in game six and repelling them with good serves before Federer wasted the third opportunity with a massive forehand error that would have cost him a lot.

Nadal saved two more break points before finally bringing the game home after a service winner to level the score at 3-3 and build his confidence. As usual in tennis, Roger was punished for so many chances he squandered, getting broken at love in game seven when his backhand found the net to send Rafa in front.

Nonetheless, more troubles were just around the corner for Nadal on his serve, saving three break points in game eight for another significant hold and a 5-3 lead when Roger failed to return his serve. This took even more confidence from the Swiss' game, suffering the second straight break in game nine to lose the opener 6-3 after a forehand winner from Rafa who saved all ten break points he had to play against!

Nadal was mighty relieved, opening the second set with a much-needed comfortable hold, firing a crosscourt forehand winner and delivering another one in game three to stay in front. Roger saved a break point at 1-2 to level the score at 2-2, creating a colossal chance of taking Rafa's serve at 3-3 after earning three break points.

The second one did the magic for Federer who survived a tough eighth game to move 5-3 ahead, saving three break points to put himself in a nice position to win the set. Rafa saved four set points on serve in game nine before Federer closed it after a forehand error from his rival at 5-4.

Nadal made an instant recovery, scoring a break in the second game of the third set and making another good hold for a 3-0 lead when Roger sprayed a forehand error, with the Swiss finding himself with a lot of work to be done if he wanted to climb back on the scoreboard.

That couldn't happen as Nadal sailed through his service games with ease to close the set with another powerful forehand in game nine, moving closer to the finish line and another title in Paris. From 40-15 down in the second game of set number four, Roger won three straight points to create a break chance, his 17th and the last in this match that Nadal fended off with a forehand down the line that stayed out of Federer's reach.

The momentum was entirely on Nadal's side now, breaking in game three after a loose forehand from Roger for another big step towards the finish line. A service winner pushed Rafa 3-1 up, holding without any problems in game six as well to keep himself in front.

Federer was unable to do something more on the return and the Spaniard held in game eight with a forehand winner for a 5-3 lead, delivering another good hold at 5-4 to cross the finish line, falling to the ground when Roger's forehand landed long and starting a massive celebration after staying unbeaten in Paris.