.. I SAW THAT FINAL ..
DATE – July 9, 2007 DAY – Monday
Today may be a July 9 or a Monday , but in future, last Sunday, July 8 , wouldnt be remembered merely by its date or its day .
July 8, 2007 Sunday would be remembered as the day when a sporting finale entered the grounds of IMMORTALITY leaving its usual MORTAL grounds .
It would be remembered as the day when one of the greatest Champion of that sport , chasing immortality , ran head bang into the upcoming Champion of the next era , came in the way of his heir claiming the throne , stopped the time as well as his arc rival to prevent him from booking his date with History.
It would be remembered as the day when two of the rarest specimen of the sporting world , threw at each other whatever they possibly could , fought with their souls when their bodies seemed to have given up , proved that no matter how much advancement science has made during the last century , we are still a long long away to really understanding the laws that govern this universe completely.
Indeed , it was the day when ROGER FEDERER won the finals of WIMBLEDON-07 , for the 5th consecutive time , defeating his arc rival RAFAEL NADAL in one of the greatest matches ever played in LAWN TENNIS history.
YES , I was there , may be not on that famous Centre Court , but felt I was there , even though I was watching on a television set from some 20000 miles away , with my younger brother in my home . It was that kind of occasion .
The occasion was huge .
Federer , still in his teens , had entered the tennis world by surprisingly upsetting the then greatest player of all time , Pete Sampras , at the same centre court of Wimbledon , stopping the champ on his route to breaking , arguably the greatest lawn tennis records of all time , the 5 consecutive Wimbledon crowns achieved by none other than Bjorn Borg , probably greatest of them all.
Well , with due respect to other champs of this beautiful sport, namely John Mcnroe , Rod Laver , Jimmy Corners and others ,
I think the world arguably agreed that the top 3 spots in Lawn Tennis History had to be shared by the trio of Borg , Sampras and Federer .
After stopping Sampras dead in his tracks , it took a couple years
for Federer to really polish the talent he had and to become the champion we all thought he would become after viewing that match between him and Sampras .
In 2003 , he arrived , claiming the greatest of all slams , the Wimbledon for the 1st time , and decided to give the record books a refreshing as he went on to break almost all records , claiming the Wimbledon-03,04,05,06 , the Australian Open -04,06,07 and the US Open -04,05,06 , claiming in total of 10 grand slams .
But theres something missing in the above tally , as any tennis follower would point , The clay court of French Open .
Federer , although how much great he was , hadn’t really conquered the clay courts of
Nadal didn’t had the game which would please your eyes while watching , but he was bloody effective . He didn’t had the ease and elegance of a Federer but if only that’s talent then it needs redefining .
He had all the shots , he had a body , stamina and speed many would envy , but above all he had a temperament and a fighting spirit that even the great Federer would have love to have .
He had won the French Open 3 times in row , 05 06 07 , coming in Federer’s way for the last 2 years .
He was the only one having a better head to head record against Federer , 8 -12 , although much of those matches were on federer’s least favourite surface .
Earlier this year in
only to find Nadal again guarding the only slam he hadn’t yet got his hands to .
So , just after the French Open and the
As he again seemed to be in a world of his own on his beloved grass chasing Borg’s record of 5
He dropped only a set on his way to the finals , with no one really threating or whatsoever to his claim to the throne.
Nadal, on the other hand , struggled on his way , on his least favourite surface , playing two 5 setters in his 3rd and 4th round matches and was enroute to another one in the semis , when fate decided to give him a break with the semifinalist, down with an injury ,decided to hand him the task of facing that bully on grass named Roger Federer .
So the Stage was set . The current 2 best players of the world were meeting in the finals of 2007 , repeating as they did an year before.
The stage was set for Federer to avenge his defeat at the French Open earlier this year , and equal Borg’s record.
The stage was set for Nadal to establish himself in the history by becoming the 1st , after Borg ( Borg again !!),to win the double of
…THE PRE-MATCH HUFF PUFF…
The man himself , Bjorn Borg , whose records these 2 champions were chasing , was present for the finals , ready to congratulate who so ever comes on top.
There was a little programme before the match , where the trio of Borg , Mcnroe , Corners , revived their old memories of the lane to the centre court , which ended up giving goosebumps to most of the viewers , seeing those 3 together .
Questions were raised about how much of a chance Nadal had , or whether Federer would repeat the 06 finals by brushing him aside .
Although Nadal had lost in the finals of 06 , and seemed to struggle in his way to finals , all of those who had followed his journey this year , seemed to be culminating a common fear , although in deepest corner of their heart , that time was approaching , however slow ,when the throne of this tennis world would find a successor , a new heir , and bid good bye to probably its greatest ruler .
I was one of them , who though realized the speed at which Nadal was closing the gap , werent just ready to believe it . Human , as we all are .
I was just repeatedly reassuring myself , whenever that fear seemed to be aggravating , that theres no way Federer is going to be troubled on grass , no way this Nadal , whose serve isn’t one of all time best , who tries to play on grass from the baseline , as if it was clay , is gonna make his presence felt on that centre court , the court which , for the last 4 years ,has been dancing on the tunes of this artist named Federer .
I just knew Federer would win .
It was something between a belief and a hope .
So , the time arrived , Sunday , 6pm IST , I was there in front of my televison set , with my younger brother , to detect any signs , anything they might show before the match , these 2 great champions of our era .
Well , the signs were surely there , although we werent the most accomplished of really explaining who had the edge. I leave the greater mortals reading , to find something .
There was a pre-match short interview of the 2 players .
Nadal , was clearly nervous , or rather put it this way , he was doing normal things to calm himself like moving a little bit more than usually , shifting from one foot to another , exchanging his racquet among his hands .
Federer , on the other hand , seemed to be in the zone , his calm and confident self , not a string of nervousness anywhere .
But , we all know and over the years , have come to realize that the great man has his ways of dealing with nervousness , showing zero emotions topping the list .So Federer wasn’t giving anything away.
The authorities had their bags carried out before they came out . So they had to just walk out without anything in their hands rather than the customary carrying the bags .
The 2 came out of the lane .
Federer was expected to come out 1st ( just an expectation by his fans as he was the champ) , but instead Nadal came out , that too with his racquet in his hand .
Federer was supporting his new attire , a complete suite , which didn’t seem like one of the getups leading to a serious match.
So , heres the picture . Both of them coming out , Nadal in front , in his sporting gear , with his racquet in his hand , jogging in front of Federer , who seemed intent on walking to the place he ruled , dressed in his royal type of attire , as if Nadal was just a guest.
Different theories can explain who had the edge , even the commentator , Vijay Amritraj , quoted that Nadal had won a psychological battle by entering the way he did , but I think both of them did what was extremely normal to them . Federer was the Federer we knew , calm and confident , seeming like the ruler of this world . Nadal was the Nadal we knew , ready to give a fight till theres any breadth remaining in his body .
Federer won the toss and elected to serve . Borg took his place in the crowd , accompanied by Mcnroe Corners and many other greats of the past .
Indeed the stage was SET .
Federer’s serve . Well opinions may vary from person to person how good it was or how close was it to the great Sampras serve , but most will agree that it took one hell of a game by the opponent to break Federer when serving well . And he seemed to do that always when on grass .
So he started in his usual way putting in big 1st serves and won the 1st game within a couple of minutes .
Then came the 1st testing time for Nadal . Will he be able to hold on to his not so renowned serve or will Federer will take the initiative . I think that game lasted 5 times more than what the 1st did . Nadal gave the hint what he’s gonna do the whole day by presenting a fight , but Federer broke Nadal .
Nadal had started with some nerves and Federer had taken advantage .
Federer’s serve again , the champ holds easily .
Before 15 mins are over , score looks 3-0 .
And we are all cheers . That initial doubt whether there’s gonna be some upset initiated by that fighter were slowly being laid to rest .
Nadal ‘s serve again . Then there’s some loopholes which Federer is keen on exploiting but after a fight , Nadal manages to hold .
He is on the board .
Federer’s serve again . At this time we aren’t really worried about the 1st set . I was imaging what the final result would be , Federer should end it in 3 sets , just let him know who the boss is , or whether Nadal will manage take a set of him . Whatever Federer should do it convincingly just to avenge that French Open loss.
The score’s moving . Nadal wins a couple of points . He is starting to move really well . Slowly but surely he is feeling his way around . Not such of a tension exists as Federer is just a point away from a break point , we knew there would be an ace around the corner and shortly the game would end with the score reading 4-1.
We wait for it to happen but Nadal ends the point in his favour .
Hang on . 2 break points against Federer , that too so early in 1st set. May be Nadal sees an opening there . But still , Fed will hold .
We are still in the aura of the champ and wait for him to surprise us with his greatness , like the way he usually does.
Nadal gets the break back .
Score 3-2 .
Nadal serves again . He is starting to play more confidently on his serve , really putting those whipping forehands into work .
And while we are still coming in terms with the fact that Nadal has broken Fed in only the 5th game of the 1st set , Nadal holds his serve.
Score 3-3 . Nadal finds a way back .Nadal sends a clear cut message across with this fight back , Federer better play at his best.
Federer serves . Holds .
Nadal does the same . He is really gaining in confidence .
We wait for Fed to break . We just know it would happen , its just a matter of time .
Both hold their serves and force the 1st set into a tie breaker .
At this moment we are starting to get fidgety .
The broadcasters show a piece of stats which calms us a bit .
Federer’s got a much much better record in tie breakers than his rival .
Of Course we knew he ll pull out the 1st set . Just as the stats confirm .
Nadal to serve 1st in the tie breaker .
And Fed breaks him early and a get a mini break , and holds his 1st serve . 2-0 .
Nadal fights back and gets the mini break back. 2-1 .
We hold our breadths and stop thinking for the next 5 minutes .
A grueling battle . Score Fed leading 6-5.
Nows the time , we know it .
Nadal equals with 6-6 .
I now have a loss of memory of the next 4 points . I just remember one of 3 real loud shouts that I let out during the match . The time for the 1st one had arrived .Fed manages to scrap through 9-7.
Huh ! But we are happy . We knew Nadal had thrown his possible best but still the champ had the 1st set in his pocket .Now it will be an easy road ahead with Fed gaining confidence .
Well , indeed we seemed to know a little too much things for our comfort.
Nadal starts the 2nd set .
We detect a change in his strides , a confident Nadal , serving well , mixing his baseline play with his newly acquired approach to the net and even volleying well .
On the other hand , we see a Federer not at his best , facing little bits of problems in even holding his serve . But we just see it , not detect it . We knew Federer will win . He ll start serving well and start breaking Nadal and create a havoc and will lift that trophy ,like he had done for so many years .
I have again a vague memory of this set , don’t know why , may be because our champ was staring to show signs of humanness ,
which we werent accustomed to .
Both hold their serves , for the 1st 7 games .Score 4-3 for Nadal .
I start looking for the moment when Federer will think enough’s enough. Let’s get this done . And he ll just raise his level to one not seen before.
Ok now , we think , he ll hold for the starting , he holds .Score 4-4
Now he ll get the break necessary , he doesn’t .Score 5-4 .
I remember thinking , cant be another tie breaker , Fed’s gotta do better . Surely he’ll break soon . Fed serves to level 5-5 .
Nadal breaks , takes the 2nd set 6-4 .
That last statement of ‘ he ll break soon ‘ , that as earlier , was something between a hope and a belief with a minor change.
The balance seemed to be shifting to the Hope’s side more and more with the time progressing .
That wasn’t the way , I was thinking , we didn’t hope Fed will play the better of his whosoever opponent , we just KNEW he will .
Slowly but surely , that was changing , as the whosoever opponent was a champion himself .
And that is what happens when 2 champions meet .
Many beliefs and many faiths are broken .
But then Nadal took a set away from Federer even the last year , when surely he was much weaker on grass than what he currently is . We need to give him some space , I was thinking.
He has taken a set like he did last year , but Federer , seeing the dangers arising will step up and close the gates .
Like he did last year .
Nadal started the set . Held with ease .
Federer served his . Managed to hold .
U r not really used to using these types of phrases with Federer like ‘ managed to hold his serve ‘ , he just held . That’s not something we knew , that’s just plain true .He rarely had any problems holding his serve on grass on any day given day.
But then this wasn’t just any other day .
Indeed Nadal was troubling him now n again , threating to break that Federer serve .
But he managed to hold on from his side .
And so did Nadal from his side .
At this point , we had started to stop worrying about Fed being unable to break Nadal’s serve , we had started to start worrying whether he ll hold or not and just hoping he ll break Nadal after each of his serve wins . Nadal was getting that close to Fed and indeed was getting to my nerves also .
Federer never broke him in that 3rd set .
But the story of this set revolves around the signs a champion was giving , the signs of his capabilities , capabilities which we haven’t witnessed yet , on grass that is .
Its about the level of game Nadal was playing and the heights he was hinting to achieve with the passing of each second.
Not that Fed was playing way below par . He was doing his bit , producing some of those impossible shots which were always trying to challenge the laws of physics and with those aces reaching the double figures . But then we were used to that kind of show by the great man , but still he seemed to be the one struggling.
Finally its about the perfect example of how if we hold ourselves for some time and then strike at the RIGHT moment , success bows defying all the laws.
Well , that’s precisely what Fed did in this set .
He wasn’t in the best of his form with Nadal going nuts .
But the champ hung on . Hung and managed to hold each of his service games , not with much ease though .
He fought with everything Nadal was throwing at him and managed to push the set into a tie breaker .
And there lay the key .
Fed with his big serves , and better service game , would always have a better chance . Atleast that’s what stats say .
But today was not a day when one was too keen relying on what the stats were saying , already Nadal had broken Fed twice to a 1 break for Fed .
But still Fed would win this tie break , we just knew it .
At this time , I was just beginning to consider another viewpoint towards the match .
If for a second , I forget that I m an ardent fan of this guy called Federer , surely Nadal deserves to win , surely .
I was shocked at my own feelings , I mean how could I want Nadal to win .
I had followed Fed’s rise from the starting . We seemed very lucky as we discussed the possibility of being in an era when the greatest tennis player of all time took ground and redefined all the shots.
And all that was left in his conquership was this guy called Nadal.
Why the hell , he had to come at this possible time .
Couldn’t he had waited for another 5 years .
Would have served well for both . Even sometimes I feel for Nadal , as he landed in the Fed era , otherwise he would have won a lot more .
In the end , I got my answers when the match ended .
But , wait . Why sympathy for Nadal . I was a die hard follower of Roger Federer and no one was allowed to disturb him .
But , then , I don’t know , whats it with a UNDERDOG .
We all love an underdog . We all love to see someone really fight his way up when none is really expecting .Its human nature.
At that moment I realized if I hadn’t been watching tennis for the last decade , and this was the 1st match I was seeing , I would have cheered for Nadal , surely . And I think that’s what a large percentage was doing , at that centre coure , even through out the world .
Into the tie break , another thought crossed the mind , well currently who deserves the tag of UNDERDOG .
By the way Nadal has been playing for the last hour an so , Fed should be the underdog .
What ! Fed an underdog .
Whatever , he ll win it . His name is Roger Federer .
And after a long while , the champion didn’t disappoint me , and his other fans , of the levels we expect from him.
Flashes of his greatness were there , a mini break , one or two aces , and quickly he jumped to a 5-1 lead , with Nadal serving .
Nadal, fought ,like he usually does , managed to hold .
But Fed sealed the set 7-6(7-3) in the tie breaker .
It was the perfect example of how the great champ had saved his best for the right possible moment .
Not many would argue on who played better in that set , if counted on the whole . Surely Nadal was calling the shots .
But then one of the secrets to success is doing better at the crucial moments , which exactly what Fed had done .
With the final shot , I sighed a relief .
Surely now , Fed’s got his confidence back . Surely now its time for the train known as FedEx to gain speed and show its true heights .This had to be the last set .
But then , I forgot there was a new passenger on that train today .
A passenger called Rafael Nadal , who was slowly but surely slowing FedEx down .
Although , conventionally speaking , i shouldn’t remember much of this set , due to what Nadal did to Federer , which we fans generally forget.
I think , may be , I remember it for Nadal .
I remember it for the way how our HERO was dumped from one corner to another , rarely believing what we were just viewing .
Nadal was playing an absolute BLINDER .
Federer served . We all expected , rather hoped , Fed would put an end to this story in this set only . He ll hold , and break Nadal very soon .
I don’t remember the individual points .
I just remember how Nadal found a way through each and everything what Fed threw at him .
Nadal found spaces where even the great Federer wasn’t expecting.
He ran like anything , reached to balls , noone would even dare to dream , hit winners which everyone just dreamt.
It was that kind of display .
I think I haven’t seen him play any better .
He was surely at the very top of his game .
He broke Federer right at the beginning of the 4th set.
Then held his serve easily .
I had become too rigid to really move . My brother was changing his sitting place in hope something would change .
Federer served to register in this set .
Again a break point .
Slowly we were starting to be doomed by the reality of the situation . 2-0 down with a break , Federer wasn’t looking in any sort of comfort trying to hold his serve .
Then on the break point , an incident happened which needs a special mention .
Federer trying wit all his might to hold on to his serve , facing a break point , played a good point , with Nadal hitting the ball just long . It was called out , Nadal challenged to call with the new Hawk-Eye system .
Federer knew it was long.
The HawkEye ruled it in .
I saw the verdict on television and still I m not sure about the correctness of that call .
First and foremost , I don’t know how the HawkEye software manages to detect the amount the ball squeezes on hitting the ground , as that would make whole lot of difference if we are indeed going for point millimeter accuracy.
How the software manages to create an impression of the striking ball , and with what accuracy , that is really questionable.
Apart from that , broadcasts showed another view of that shot from the SlowMo , and I don’t think many would argue , it did seem long .
But why so much on a point .
Because it was deadly important at that stage .
Had Fed managed to hold on his serve , he would have just needed to break Nadal once , which was easily within his range , atleast that’s what really we felt.
But now , 3-0 down with 2 breaks against him , and with Nadal facing no trouble at all holding his serve . After all , the champion was also human .
Still we hoped . That’s what we fans do quite well.
Within seconds , as it seemed , Nadal raced to a 4-0 lead .
There seemed no way back .
My brother asked me to ‘ do something ‘ .
‘do something ‘ , what could I do , I wasn’t moving , don’t remember myself breathing even , brain had stopped working a long ago . Only 1 thought ruled the mind , what the hell is happening .
Hail the champions who managed to perform their best in situations where 20000 miles away I want able to move.
We had never seen federer so raffled .
He was furious at that decision and even asked the umpire to switch it off . Switch the HawkEye off ! , which has been functioning throughout the competition , whosoever said laughter was the best remedy of such situations , needs to correct it , it needs to come out . Nothing was coming out of me . I just sat staring at the television set .
0-4 , Federer serving . He holds .1-4.
I again muster a hope against hope , to deny the inevitable .
Nadal manages to hold . 5-1 .
Fed holds again . 2-5.
Nadal takes the set 6-2.
This is roughly what I remember of the remaining of the set .
I just remember Nadal hitting dozens of impossible shots leaving the great great Federer dazzled with their brilliance .
The match was forced onto a 5th set .
…………………..SET 5 ………………….
The broadcasters did their bit in helping the situation around with their stats . Even before the 5th set started , stats showed that Fed didn’t favour the 5 set matches much , while Nadal relished that form . Nadal had a much better record of 5 set matches than Fed .
It showed that as the match grew longer n longer Nadal with his stronger legs and never say die attitude will have the edge .
But hang on , I thought , the man other side is none other than Roger Federer . Whatever the stats might suggest , this was one of the most important finals he was playing , not only from the what was at stakes , the Borg’s great record but also from the fact that his rival had given the very possible best he could and was still giving.So Federer needed to win this one more as to just put the last diamond in his kit which ll shine brighter than others .
He ‘ll do it . I knew it . This was almost purely a hope .
Fed served , started well , serving well , number of aces were increasing and were in their teens to a couple for Nadal .
He held the 1st game .
Nadal serves . Holds easily .
I remember thinking just 1 thing through this set . This Nadal is greater than I thought . I never gave Nadal the respect he deserved because he seemed to be in the way my idol everytime .
Score 1-1 .
Fed serves . Now we can see real prolems arising .
Fed obviously rattled by the previous set , was down in confidence, started to miss shots and volleys which he otherwise completes with his eyes shut .
He’s down , really . I remember feeling.
Within seconds , Nadal has 2 break points against Fed , 15-40.
From this moment till the end of the match , I don’t think , me and my brother , we ever muttered a single word .It was deadening silence. Our Hero was down , and he needed support.
There are some moments in life , some instances , when no matter how much of an atheist you are or rather no matter how much of a scientific look you have towards the everyday happening of life , you end up praying .
U don’t know whether it ll serve any purpose or whatever , u just think if ever there exist any power which governs all the laws , it better help our Hero .
Because we don’t like our Heroes losing and may be because we aren’t capable of doing anything to change the current situation.
So we knock on the door of the ALMIGHTY .
I was in such a situation .
I don’t remember when I prayed last time , because I don’t believe in doing it for yourself .
But I prayed .
15-40 , 2 break points .
I remember holding my breadth for the whole game ,while Federer was putting in aces and real big serves , and finding angles which werent really visible on that television set .
And all the breadth I was holding is let out in the shriek no. 2 , still I have 1 more left .
4 consecutive points for the great champ .
And he survives the scare.
The champ had raised his game , and couldn’t have come at a better time .Huh ! . That was close , we thought .
Now , we anticipate a break.
Nadal holds peacefully .
Score 2-2 .
Fed serves again .
Before we realize what has happened , Nadal has 2 break points again .
Again !! Fed down 15-40 .
This was a real nightmare .
I remember thinking that even if Fed manages to somehow bail out of the trouble and somehow win in the end ( although I knew he ll win , but see the number of ‘somehows’) ,
Were the rules of this game fair ?
I mean , till now , if u ask a fair answer to who had played better .
It had to Nadal , had broken Fed 4 times , to Fed’s only break .And with each game passing by , he was threating more n more to get the break no. 5 .
Nadal had to be the better player today .
But then I thought about the history of the game , which had been standing high for centuries . No way , rules are unfair . May be I need to learn more . May be I ll have my answer at the end .I realized the amount I had learned during this match , I couldn’t possibly verbally discuss this match with anybody.
I make a mental note of penning it down if Federer manages to win.
Fed 15-40 down . We have become really stiff .I had my fist shaking like anything , just urging the champ to dig deep in his reserves.
Again 4 great points with an ace down the line , he ‘s back .
This time I didn’t have the power to really let another shriek .
I just collapsed on the bed I was sitting .
I saw my brother jumping around , but I was in sort of a ‘coma’ , I just lay there thinking how in the earth did Fed managed to get out of that hole .
He had played really really well , he’s coming back , I remember muttering to myself , with my fist all locked up .
Score 3-2 .
Nadal serves .
If there had to be a break in favour of Federer which would allow him this match , the time had come .
This had to be the game .
I couldn’t stand a 5th set tie breaker .
Nadal is starting to make just a little bit unforced errors , we can see. But they aren’t unforced at all , although they might seem to .
Fed’s putting in the pressure , feeling the time had arrived .
Before I can yell a YES , Nadal is 0-40 down .
3 break points for Federer .
Surely , Surely , my prayer is paying of.
Nadal saves 1 I think .
But I still remember the point clearly in my eyes as if I have a video stored in my head .
Fed pushes Nadal in the right corner of the court , and only 1 forehand is what is left , but with Nadal ‘s speed closing in that of a bullet , it has to be a 100% precise .
Ball is a little short , Fed jumps on hit , swirls for that famous forehand , ball seems to be going out , if go by the trajectory of a projectile with the air drag , but there’s a hell lot of top spin imparted on that ball by the champ , ball dips at the very last moment and takes the line .
I let out the 3rd and the last of the shrieks , which surely made my neighbours know that they werent the only one supporting Federer.
Well , u can obviously take help from Physics to explain how the hell that ball got in , when it destined to be going out .
Physics will probably explain how if the ball is made to spin at such a high rate , while in a projectile motion , it ll do things our eyes aren’t accustomed to .
But what even Physics cant explain is that , how in the earth a normal human being can put such a spin on the ball which can only be imparted by generating an impossibly high racquet speed with the timing of the highest possible precision .
But then he isn’t a normal one , is he .
He is Roger Federer .
My shriek lasted for more than 10 seconds , I think .
I seemed to be shouting even after I really didn’t want to , just to let the world know how I knew ,I just knew somehow that he would do it .
But it isn’t over till yet , I reminded myself .
That person named Nadal , had already forgotten that he isn’t supposed to be playing that good . But that’s the sign of great champs , they quickly seem to forget what their own estimation is of their capabilities .
But while I was arguing with myself , can Nadal fight this one out also , there were 2 aces , one down the line , another in the corner , 2 real big serves , score 5-2 .
One of the fastest games Fed had played this match .
There was a string of belief back on Federer , which looked so nice on him , as if it were its only home .He knew he had done the damage . Now he had just to hold his nerves .
With each shot , we saw the champ really put the foot on the accelerator . Nadal also seemed to realise his chance was gone , but was fighting as he always does .
Federer gained another chance to break Nadal .
The last point , and its finish , really summarized the fate of this day .
Ball came short to Fed , he hits a forehand in the leftmost corner possible , with Nadal miles away .
We jump up in anticipation . No way Nadal’s gonna get to this .
Nadal fights to the corner , we don’t actually see Nadal , I think it was so far down the corner , but we see the ball coming back towards Fed’s side , it makes the side , but Federer is waiting , and with a backhand smash , ends the EPIC .
Federer collapses on the ground , tears in his eyes .
We are not used to these types of scenes as Federer rarely fights that hard for a win , and even after that he rarely shows such emotions .
But then this isn’t yet any other day .
I seemed to be crying with my champ , we knew what he had fought through to claim this victory .
But wait , spare a thought for the man on the other side , Rafael Nadal , who even though has lost the match , but has won millions of hearts .
Federer collects himself , goes towards the waiting Nadal at the net , to tell him , he equally deserved the win .
The 2 great champs congratulate each other .
I m in a dilemma of my own .
We had watched so many close matches of our beloved game CRICKET and supported so many times our beloved champ of that game , SACHIN TENDULKAR .
But it had been never so tense , or rather it had been never so close.
Never so tense , never so close , what was I thinking , there were closer match played before in cricket and like today we had done , we tried to fight each one of .
But something was different today , the intensity was greater .
Then I realized it had to do with the TEAM game and a single player sport difference that the 2 great sports have .
Cricket is a team sport , where u tend to relate yourself with the whole team of 11 players , how much you adore a single player .
The failure of our champ seems to be ignored , as long as the team wins .
But in Tennis , its different .There’s only 1 player and he is solely responsible for everything . That’s why I feel single sport achievements may be regarded as greater than team sports achievements .
So he’s right up there according to me with the Pele ,the Maradonna , the Woods , the Johnson , the Ali , the Bradman .
Yes , he’s right up there , the Roger Federer .
I remember our father teaching us how we can learn from sports about our everyday life .
And how it took years to grow your mental strength which these great champs exhibit in their respective sports .
I don’t know how much this match means to Federer or even to Nadal , but I know we grew with the match .
We grew with the passing of each shot Nadal threw at Federer and Federer , being however great he was , being unable to return .
We grew on observing how the great champion of this game , battled for over 4 hours , only to dig that form out for the last possible moment , to shake off the challenge put forward by his greatest rival .
Its trivial to realize how can u grow mentally within the course of a single match .
But I know , we grew .
Federer ended up saying in his interview that ‘ he sometimes gets lucky ‘ , which left me baffled how come only the champions tend to book a date with luck , with lesser mortals like us always looking for it .
And I had got most of my answers to questions which cropped up in my mind during the course of the battle .
Federer had won 7-6(9-7) , 4-6 , 7-6(7-3) , 2-6 , 6-2 .
And in the end I realized how we fools liked in the core of our hearts for our Hero to fall first for a while , making the task even so tougher , just to test , just to see him come through the toughest of circumstances so that he becomes even more great in our views.
And then moments later , start praying that he comes through .
But that’s human nature .
And I think this win for Federer , although it must be his hardest earned , makes him even more great in our eyes .
The day when a Hero was about to fall , to kneel in front of another champ , but he hung on , he hung to the last possible thread of the rope , and waited for his time , and when it came , he booked a special place in memories of all of us .
Yes , I SAW THAT FINAL , the day when ROGER FEDERER claimed to be one of the greatest athelete ever born .
July 10, 2007 .