Facing each other for the first time in Miami 2004, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have forged one of the most significant tennis rivalries, dominating the rest of the field in those years and fighting for Majors and Masters 1000 trophies.
Nadal scored four straight wins over Federer at Roland Garros between 2005-08, while Roger had the upper hand in Wimbledon finals in 2006 and 2007, extending his incredible streak on grass that started in 2003. Making significant progress on the fastest surface, Nadal would reach two Wimbledon finals in the mentioned years, challenging Roger more and more and preparing another assault in 2008 after the fourth straight Roland Garros crown.
Nadal and Federer were the favorites at the All England Club, and they reached the third consecutive final. Since 2003, Roger had 40 successive triumphs in the cathedral of tennis, with Nadal breaking that incredible streak following an epic 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 victory in four hours and 48 minutes!
Thus, Rafa became the first player since Bjorn Borg with a "Channel Slam," adding the fifth Major to his tally just after turning 22 and carving his path towards the greatest players of all time. Nadal won five points more than Federer, fended off 12 out of 13 break opportunities and earned four breaks to prevail and celebrate one of the most significant moments in tennis history.
Federer had more winners and more errors in his first Wimbledon loss since 2002. Rafa stayed in touch with him in the shortest points up to four strokes, improving his initial shot to reach the rival's level and delivering incredible tennis on those break chances to give it away only once.
Still, Roger found a way to bounce back in sets three and four, prevailing in a tight fourth-set tie break to force a decider where he was the favorite.
Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in that thrilling Wimbledon 2008 final.
Starting all over, Nadal fended off a break chance in the final set's eighth game to remain in touch.
The Spaniard wasted his return opportunities in games 11 and 13 before converting the fourth break chance at 7-7 to move in front. Serving a couple of moments before complete darkness, the Spaniard held after deuce to seal the deal and start a massive celebration of his first Major crown outside Paris.
Nadal's coach Francisco Roig said it was an exciting and enjoyable encounter, one of the best in history. Beating Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final is always an incredible achievement, marking one of Rafa's most notable moments.
"The standard was so high, but it's difficult to compare different eras. It was so exciting and really wonderful. If it's not the best match in terms of tennis that you could see, but in terms of excitement, it's surely one of the best in history for everything it had: the time it finished, the flashes, the break, the match points.
It was clearly a turning point. Beating Federer in the Wimbledon final says it all. When he missed a chance to close out the match and went to the locker room, he said he wouldn't lose the match rather than feeling beaten.
Roger would have to win it. Rafa had a winning attitude, and that gave the team peace of mind. It was an important moment. In the end, matches are not over until they are over. I think it really helped him to do great things at Wimbledon that he has shown," Francisco Roig said.