Another Wimbledon showdown for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal



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On Friday, in the semifinals of Wimbledon, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play for the 40th time in their careers. The number 39 was just a month ago, in a semifinal of the French Open that Nadal won in straight sets to take his record against Federer to 24-15.

But the clay of Paris is Nadal's domain; He has won 12 titles at Roland Garros. The grbad of the All England Club is the land of Federer, where he has lifted the champion trophy eight times.

This will be his first Wimbledon game since the 2008 final, a Nadal victory that has inspired books, a documentary and a lavish compliment. John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg have described the game as the best they have ever seen.

Martin Flanagan, of The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, wrote: "I reckon it was so good that it has refreshed the meaning of sport."

It certainly looked that way in the tiebreaker for the third set, when Nadal used it to win it, then backed into his chair with biceps flexed and the crowd in a tizzy.

But by the time the last rumor of applause had echoed in the stadium, Nadal's stunts and brand confidence were not enough to defeat Federer in the All England Club, which has become his private place.

"Tony told me before the game:" This is your house, it's your court ", said Federer about his trainer, Tony Roche.. "I told him: O.K., O.K., I'm going to try to win, I'll try not to lose the keys."

He did not lose them on Sunday, starting oddly and ending up in a rather weird way to close the victory. Federer, 24, seemed more relieved than happy when he walked, with heavy legs, to the net to share a handshake with Nadal, the 20-year-old Spaniard, who had become his nemesis.

"I am very aware of how important this match was to me," said Federer, the favorite and the top-ranked player, who lost to Nadal in the final of the French Open last month. "It was important for me to win a final against him for a change and beat him for a change."

This was their first meeting on the turf, and now a confrontation between Federer and Nadal is beginning to look like a real rivalry in tennis, in which each player is able to take the momentum and crawl and get into the other's head.

2007: final

In a matter of moments, three sides of Roger Federer were on display in the Central Court. First came the skillful and strong blow that won the Wimbledon championship. Then came the emotional reaction: Federer knelt, rolled on his back with his hands over his face and sat up with tears in his eyes.

Finally, to the applause of the fans, including Bjorn Borg, Federer arrived to accept the winner's trophy. He wore a shy smile and, after a Superman-style change of clothes, his white pants, his white vest and his monogrammed white jacket with gold trim.

There is always a touch of style with Federer, the 25-year-old from Switzerland, and now he has reached an almost unprecedented level of substance.

Federer beat Rafael Nadal, his 21-year-old Spanish rival, in five sets on Sunday Join Borg as the only male players in the last 100 years to win Wimbledon five times in a row.

"I am happy with such a good race, especially at Wimbledon, the most important tournament of my life," said Federer. "I love every minute, it's clear."

2008: final

No man had beaten Roger Federer at Wimbledon since 2002. But almost in the dark, one of the best tennis matches ever played ended in the Wimbledon final on Sunday with Roger Federer hitting a small right-wing hit on the net and with a victorious Rafael Nadal on the back. With camera flashes illuminating his exhausted and enchanted face.

Nadal was the closest to ending Federer's streak at Wimbledon in last year's final, pushing his friendly opponent to five sets before ending up in tears in the locker room when Federer matched Bjorn Borg's men's record with his fifth title. consecutive.

The emotional fight of last year immediately took its place among the best Wimbledon finals, but this five-set clbadic, played on a rainy and blustery day, was even better.

At 4 hours 48 minutes, it was the the longest singles final in the history of Wimbledon and it did not end until 9:16 p.m. local time.

"The most important thing is to win the title," said Nadal. "After that, you think about winning against No. 1, probably the best player in history or the closing, and the fact that it was so dramatic." But it's one of the most powerful feelings I've had in my life. "

In the end, as difficult as it was, Federer and second favorite Nadal had produced so much tennis under brilliant pressure that it seemed like the most normal thing in the world that Federer hit another ace to get out. of problems or that Nadal hit another backhand hit with a sharp angle and scored an off-balance pbad shot for a winner.

The multitude of capacity in the Central Court, which had not diminished through two rain delays, roared continuously with delight or surprise and took turns chanting the first name of each combatant, which is not the way these things tend to be. work in Wimbledon.

"Probably my hardest loss, by far; I mean it's not much harder than this at the moment, "Federer said later, his voice muted and his eyes red.

CHRISTOPHER CLAREY

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