Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2007 Wimbledon final: Federer def. Nadal

Federer def. Nadal: 7-6 (9-7), 4-6,7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2
Classic: Yes.
Rating: 95.

The Plot:
Roger Federer was going for his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title and a chance to tie Bjorn Borg's open-era record. In his way stood Raphael Nadal, who incredibly had made it to the final after having looked like he was out of it in both the quarter and semi-finals.

The match: Federer gets a quick start as he breaks Nadal in the 2nd game and then takes a 3-0 lead. But Nadal works his way into the match, breaks back, and the set goes to a tie-break. At 6-3, it appears that Federer has won the breaker when Nadal's shot is called out, but Nadal gets the call overturned using the electronic line-calling system. Federer squanders his next two set points, but eventually wins the breaker 9-7. The 2nd set is a tight affair and goes with serve until Federer serves at 4-5, when Nadal breaks, playing inspired tennis. The 3rd set is similarly tight, and the tennis is superb. Both men have chances, but it is decided in a tie-break which Federer wins.

Just as one might think Federer is in the ascendancy, he plays a rather poor opening service game when Nadal again gets a line-call overturned using the electronic line-calling system. It has to be said that the ball looks like it is about an inch out on the TV replay, and one has to keep in mind here that Hawkeye isn't perfect, either. Federer is clearly rattled and asks in vain for the system to be turned off. He eventually loses serve again to go down 0-3. Leading 4-1, Nadal calls the trainer for a knee problem. Afterwards Federer seems content to try to extend rallies, while Nadal is trying to end points quickly. Federer's tactic turns out to be a mistake, since Nadal seems to move perfectly well, and strikes winner after winner.

In the 5th set both players hold serve to 1-1, but in the 3rd game Federer goes down 15-40 on serve. He saves it with some fantastic serves. In the 5th game, Federer once more goes down 15-40, but saves it with great play. At 2-3, Federer takes his game up a notch and breaks Nadal. Playing like a man renewed, he then holds for 5-2. Federer wins the match when he breaks Nadal again, putting away an overhead on match point.

The bottom line: The match is fantastically exciting from start to finish. The first three sets are tennis of the highest quality. The last two sets are not quite as fine as the tennis goes, but they hold much drama. It should be said that while the match has a good number of spectacular points, winners and "gets", the match is also at times very tense and grinding, which unfortunately doesn't seems to leave room for the kind of virtuosity we know both players otherwise posses. All the same, it is a truly outstanding Wimbledon final.

Availability: Released in the Wimbledon Classic Match series. The DVD unfortunately doesn't feature a proper introduction to the match, but it is otherwise well produced. Jimmy Connors provides great expert commentary.

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