Rafael Nadal made a promising 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," beating 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, prevailing over Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 to write history. Recalling the match, Nadal said he was more worried by the state of his knee than Roger Federer on the other side of the net, unable to keep the momentum from the fourth set and finishing runner-up despite giving his everything against the toughest 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, toppling Rafa in the quickest rallies up to four strokes.
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 in set number four, forging a 4-0 advantage and playing on a high level to force a decider.
There, Federer had to dig deep in the opening two service games, saving four break chances and gathering a massive boost from that, rattling off the final five games to seal the deal and join Bjorn Borg on five Wimbledon crowns in a row.
"I have a bit of a general memory of the fifth set, I did not remember that I had had so many opportunities. Honestly, in the fourth set, when everything was going very well for me, I have a puncture in the knee that took the momentum from me.
I ended up worrying more about the knee than the game. You can't 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 did me a lot of damage," said Rafael Nadal.