At the dawn of his career, very few people imagined that Rafael Nadal would have won two titles at Wimbledon. The Spanish champion, always considered a red clay specialist, had already hit a couple of finals at the Championships in the 2006-2007 two-year period, but had had to bow against Roger Federer.
During the 2007 final, the Majorcan seemed to be able to complete the feat before collapsing into the fifth set. Also affected was a knee problem accused by Rafa at the decisive moment, which perhaps prevented him from playing his cards to the end.
The following year the tasty revenge would come, at the end of what has been called the most beautiful game of all times.
Nadal on Roger Federer
"In 2007, I was sad and I was angry with myself. Because I wasn't able to endure mentally the pain, the suffering, and the tension" - Rafael Nadal recalled.
"Winning Wimbledon was a dream. And beating Roger Federer, and the way I won. It's something I will never forget. We've had a very intense rivalry throughout our careers, but it's been a very healthy rivalry. An elegant, respectful rivalry.
We have also reached a stage in our lives where we are able to appreciate that it's not just about winning" - he added. The contrast in playing style has been a source of debate for commentators and analysts. The heavy topspin created by Nadal's groundstrokes combined with his strategy of directing the majority of his serves and groundstrokes to Federer's single-handed backhand keeps Federer on the defensive and makes it harder for Federer to use his aggressive groundstrokes to dominate baseline rallies as he typically does against other opponents.
Federer says he is a "different player due to Nadal's presence" citing Nadal's game as a major reason for improvements in areas of his own game. As of September 2019 Roger Federer holds the all-time record for the most Grand Slam men's tournament titles with 20.
Federer's Grand Slam tournament titles include 11 on hard courts, 8 on grass, and 1 on clay. Nadal is second on the all-time list for the most Grand Slam titles with 19 in total: 12 on clay, 5 on hard courts, and 2 on grass.
Nadal and Mats Wilander are the only players in the Open Era to have won at least 2 Grand Slam titles on each of the 3 surfaces. Nadal is the youngest male in the Open Era to win the Career Grand Slam. Both players have won the Career Grand Slam (winning all four majors at least once).