Wimbledon 2008: Nadal beat Federer with ‘one foot asleep’

Almost exactly 12 years after his epic win over Federer, Nadal claimed that he played the Wimbledon final with one foot asleep

Rafael Nadal (right) and Roger Federer at the trophy ceremony

Almost exactly 12 years ago, Rafael Nadal ended Roger Federer’s supremacy on the Wimbledon grass courts in one of the most epic finals.

The Spaniard defeated Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8) and 9-7, in a rain-affected match that finished in almost darkness on July 6, 2008.

On the anniversary of one of his most celebrated triumphs, Nadal has revealed that he played most of the match with one ‘foot asleep’.

“I have never recounted it, but in the 2008 Wimbledon final I had to play with my foot asleep from the start of the match,” Nadal told Movistar about the final, which lasted for four hours and 48 minutes.

This was the third time in a row that Nadal was facing Federer in the final of Wimbledon.

Grass greener for Federer

While the Spaniard had won their contests on clay easily, he wasn’t quite able to challenge the Swiss Master on a surface that naturally suited his skill set.

Nadal had gone down to Federer in 2006, and in a dramatic five-setter in 2007.

In his book ‘Rafa’, the Spaniard had revealed that he cried inconsolably after that defeat in 2007, which saw Federer claim his fifth successive Wimbledon title.

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Nadal, 22 then, had started the 2008 final brightly and looked like he would extend his mastery over Federer from clay to grass. But Federer wasn’t about to give away his crown easily, and it looked like rain would help him reset and re-organise.

Historic win

The Swiss took the match into the decider after winning a nail-biting fourth set tie-breaker. With twilight setting in, however, Nadal broke Federer’s serve in the 15th game to edge ahead and then served out the match.

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It was the first time since Manuel Santana’s triumph in 1966 that a Spanish male player had won the Wimbledon singles title.

“I had to play with my foot asleep from the start of the game,” Nadal added.

“The stops complicated everything, because the anesthesia lasts and I needed it because I couldn’t support my foot.”

Wimbledon was canceled this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.