Rafael Nadal made a promising Wimbledon debut in 2003, becoming one of the youngest players to reach 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 after defending the title in Paris.
Still, Roger Federer stepped between Rafa and the "Channel Slam", beating the youngster in four sets to claim the fourth consecutive Wimbledon trophy and avenge the Roland Garros loss. A year later, Roger and Rafa were once again the players to beat at Wimbledon, with the world's best players clinching another title shot and producing one of their classic encounters.
After three hours and 45 minutes, Federer remained undefeated at Wimbledon for the fifth year in a row, prevailing over Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 to write the history books. Recalling the match, Nadal said he was more worried about the state of his knee than Roger Federer was on the other side of the net, unable to maintain the momentum of the fourth set and finish runner-up despite giving it his all against a more formidable opponent.
Hitting 24 aces, Federer fended off seven of 11 break chances, prevailing in the closing stages of sets one and three and producing some of his best tennis when it mattered most crossing the finish line first. The Swiss had more winners and unforced errors and dropped Rafa in the shorter rallies to control the pace.
Federer took the first set with a volley winner at 8-7 in the tie break before Nadal rallied in set number two to level the overall score.
Federer turned pro in 1998
Roger Federer pointed out the various kinds of challenges he has faced over the years, during which he was primarily focused on just 'being himself.'
"How can I be myself? That has been the greatest test of my character. How do I deal with people who ask me what it's like to be rich, or what I'm going to do with my prize money? How do I deal with the travel, with the celebrity and the fortune?" he expressed.
"It's easy when you're sitting on the couch at home. There are many celebrities on this planet, I am not the only one. Not the only good tennis player either. It's nothing out of the ordinary for me, but it does get harder when you're out and about.
The press also portrays a certain image and sometimes you have to meet impossible expectations. They want you to be the superhero," continued the Swiss player.