Rafael Nadal recalls Wimbledon final vs. Roger Federer: 'I had a knee puncture'

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Rafael Nadal recalls Wimbledon final vs. Roger Federer: 'I had a knee puncture'

The 17-year-old Rafael Nadal made a notable debut at Wimbledon in 2003, becoming one of the youngest players in the third round of the most prestigious tennis event. Three years later, the Spaniard advanced to his first Wimbledon final, hoping to win back-to-back Majors following the title defense in Paris.

Still, Roger Federer stood between Rafa and the "Channel Slam," and he beat the young gun in four sets to claim the fourth straight Wimbledon crown and avenge that Parisian loss. A year later, Roger and Rafa were the players to beat at Wimbledon again, reaching another title match and developing one of their classic Major encounters.

After three hours and 45 minutes, Federer remained unbeaten at Wimbledon for the fifth consecutive year after a hard-fought 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 victory. Recalling the match, Nadal said he was more worried about his knee than Roger on the other side of the net, unable to keep the momentum after the fourth set and finishing runner-up despite giving his everything against the most formidable possible opponent.

Firing 24 aces, Federer fended off seven out of 11 break chances, prevailing in the closing stages of sets one and three and producing his best tennis when it mattered the most to cross the finish line first. The Swiss had more winners and unforced errors and toppled Rafa in the quickest rallies up to four strokes to forge the advantage.

Rafael Nadal pushed Roger Federer to the limits in the 2007 Wimbledon final.

Federer claimed the opener with a volley winner at 8-7 in the tie break before Nadal bounced back in set number two to level the overall score.

There were no breaks of serve in the third set, and Roger was the better player in the tie break, winning it 7-3 to move closer to the finish line. Ready to leave everything on the court, Nadal dominated set number four, forging a 4-0 advantage and playing on a high level to force a decider and push the rival to the limits.

Federer had to dig deep in the opening two service games, saving four break chances and gathering a massive boost from that to rattle off the final five games and seal the deal in style. Nadal experienced a knee puncture in the fourth set, and it prevented him from playing on a higher level in the decider, despite those early chances.

"I have a bit of a general memory of the fifth set; I did not remember that I had had so many opportunities. Honestly, when everything was going very well for me in the fourth set, I had a knee puncture that took the momentum from me.

I ended up worrying more about the knee than the game. You can not keep track of something like that in the fifth set of a Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. The first break points at the beginning of the fifth set did a lot of damage to me.

I went to the locker room very affected because I ended up defeated with a double break; it was a big difference. Not being able to give more bothered me a lot," Rafael Nadal said.