Rafael Nadal: 'I didn't play at my best against Roger Federer at Wimbledon'

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Rafael Nadal: 'I didn't play at my best against Roger Federer at Wimbledon'

Rafael Nadal made Wimbledon debut in 2003, becoming one of the youngest players in the third round of the most famous tennis tournament. Three years later, the Spaniard advanced to his first final at the All England Club, losing to Roger Federer in four sets and finishing runner-up in 2007 after a thrilling fight against the Swiss.

In his third straight Wimbledon final against Federer, Rafa finally broke the spell in 2008, edging a great rival and lifting his first Major trophy outside Paris to write tennis history. Nadal had to skip Wimbledon in 2009 due to an injury, returning in 2010 when he regained the title following a win over Tomas Berdych.

Twelve months later, the Spaniard advanced to his fifth consecutive title match, losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets and never experiencing a similar run at the grass Major. Between 2012-17, Nadal would grab only eight Wimbledon triumphs, failing to make an impression and repeat his best tennis from the past.

In 2018, Rafa found the rhythm again, reaching the last four and battling against Novak Djokovic over two days, losing 10-8 in the deciding set in one of the matches of the season. Last July, Nadal was the title contender again, facing Roger Federer in the semi-final.

In the 40th clash of tennis legends, the eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer toppled Nadal 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes, moving to his 12th final at beloved Major.

It was the seventh victory for Roger over Rafa in the last eight encounters.

Eager to go at least one step further than a year ago and advance into the first Wimbledon final since 2011, Rafa gave his best in sets one and two, dropping a tight opener and having the upper hand in the second to level the overall score.

Roger threw that second set away, preparing for the third where he had the advantage again, restoring the order and sealing the deal in the fourth. The Swiss had 51 winners and 27 unforced errors, leaving Rafa on a 32-25 ratio and playing better on the return, which gave him the crucial advantage.

Both players converted two break chances and Federer delivered those in the more critical moments, celebrating the 101st victory at the All England Club. "Honestly, of these last Wimbledon, I have not won any. Since 2010 I have not won there again, but I enjoyed those runs in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

I played a couple of semi-finals, I even saw myself close to being able to win a third title. I really enjoyed playing at a very high level. Last year's semi-final against Roger Federer was not my best match, but it was a great tournament anyway," Rafael Nadal said.