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 alongside Boris Becker and Mats Wilander. 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 Roland Garros defeat. A year later, Roger and Rafa were the players to beat at Wimbledon again, reaching another title match and producing one of their classic 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 shortest rallies.
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 last five games to seal the deal and join Bjorn Borg on five consecutive Wimbledon crowns.
Nadal's coach Francisco Roig said it was a thrilling final, much closer than the previous one from 2006. Nadal made another step towards the win over Federer on the fastest surface, the one that would come a year later in that memorable title match.
"Rafael Nadal had played in two finals before. He had fewer chances in the first in 2006 against Roger Federer, but I think the second was a lot closer a year later," Francisco Roig said.