"I lost before I began": Federer's emotional hindsight on losing the 2008 Wimbledon final to Nadal

Friday, 14 June 2024 at 05:30
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The epic 2008 Wimbledon final will go down as one of the greatest matches in tennis history. The championship bout saw two of the world's best players battle for supremacy, with Rafael Nadal prevailing over Roger Federer in a thrilling five-set marathon match.
During his honorary speech at Dartmouth College's graduation ceremony last week, Federer took some time to recall the events that led up to the match. Additionally, the Swiss Maestro spoke on his desire to defeat Nadal, and when he realized the Spaniard had him beat.
"I tried not to lose, but I did lose," said the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Sometimes, big. For me, one of the biggest was finals at Wimbledon in 2008. Me versus Nadal. 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. I’m not going to walk you through the match point by point, if I did we would be here for hours, almost five hours to be exact. We found ourselves at seven all in the fifth and I understand why people focus on the end. The final minutes were so dark, you could barely see the chalk on the grass 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. 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.
“Some defeats hurt more than others. I knew I would never get a shot at six in a row, I lost Wimbledon, I lost my number one ranking and suddenly people said: ‘He had a great run, is this the changing of the guard?’ But I knew what I had to do – keep working and keep competing. In tennis, perfection is impossible.”

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