Roger Federer makes deeply honest confessions about 2008 Wimbledon final loss

In 2008, Federer lost a Wimbledon final for the first time after Rafael Nadal beat him in five sets.

by Dzevad Mesic
Roger Federer makes deeply honest confessions about 2008 Wimbledon final loss
© Getty Images Sport - Ryan Pierse

Roger Federer candidly recalled his 2008 Wimbledon final loss to Rafael Nadal as the Swiss cheekily remarked it "would have been way better" had he ended on the winning side but also admitted that it was one of the "biggest losses" of his astonishing career.

After becoming a Grand Slam champion at 2003 Wimbledon, Federer also went on to win the next four editions at The Championships. In 2008, Federer was having another great run at The All England Club and gunning for his sixth consecutive title when he stumbled upon Nadal.

Nadal, who suffered back-to-back Wimbledon final losses to Federer in 2006 and 2007, entered the 2008 final hoping to finally beat the Swiss on grass and lift his first title at The Championships. And exactly that happened after Nadal edged out Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7 in four hours and 48 minutes of play. 

The thriller and show that Federer and Nadal delivered in the 2008 Wimbledon final is widely regarded as one of the greatest matches in tennis history.

During the weekend, Federer received his Doctor of Humane Letters degree and held a speech at Dartmouth College. 

"I tried not to lose, but I did lose. Sometimes, big. For me, one of the biggest was finals at Wimbledon in 2008. Me versus Nadal," Roger Federer said during his speech.

"Some call it the greatest match of all time... All respect to Rafa, but I think it would've been way, way better if I had won. Losing at Wimbledon was a big deal. Because winning Wimbledon was everything... In 2008, I was going for a record six consecutive titles, I was playing for history."

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Federer reveals what went wrong against Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final

At the time when Federer and Nadal met in the 2008 Wimbledon, the Swiss was the absolute king on grass while the Spaniard was an absolutely dominant force on clay. 

By 2008, Federer was a three-time French Open finalist but still without a title at Roland Garros after Nadal beat him in three consecutive years in the final there. And just before 2008 Wimbledon, Nadal crushed Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0 in the French Open final.

Now, Federer reveals that he had the 2008 French Open final in the back of his mind when he came out to the court for the 2008 Wimbledon final versus Nadal. And by the time Federer managed to get himself mentally into the match, he was already down by two sets. 

"The final minutes were so dark, you could barely see the chalk... But looking back, I feel like I lost at the very first point of the match. I looked across at the net and I saw a guy, who just a few weeks ago crushed me in straight sets at the French Open. And I thought, 'Maybe this guy is hungrier than I am, and he's finally got my number,'" Federer recounted. 

"It took me until the third set to remember, 'Hey buddy, you're the five-time defending champion, and you're on grass, by the way! You know how to do this.' But it came too late and Rafa won, and it was well deserved."

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Federer on people saying his tennis looked 'effortless'

Over the years, many have referred to Federer's tennis as "the most beautiful" in tennis history and have declared the former 20-time Grand Slam champion's game as the most aesthetically pleasing. All of that led more and more saying that the way Federer played tennis, it looked "effortless."

Now, Federer acknowledges he is aware that people meant that as a compliment but also shares that he was "frustrated" at times by that claim. And the reason for that was the fact that the Swiss knew what he had to overcome to be in the position he was.

"People would say my play was effortless. Most of the time, they meant it as a compliment," Federer said. 

"But it used to frustrate me when they would say, 'He barely broke a sweat', or, 'Is he even trying?'.

"The truth is, I had to work very hard to make it look easy. I didn't get where I got on pure talent alone. I got there by trying to outwork my opponents. Most of the time, it's not about having a gift. It's about having grit."

Roger Federer
Roger Federer © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Meanwhile, Federer's career officially came to an end in 2022 after he battled knee issues for a couple of years. Since then, Federer has been enjoying retirement life but he found some time to visit his beloved Wimbledon as a guest last year.

Roger Federer Wimbledon Rafael Nadal