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.
"No lo he contado nunca, pero en la final de Wimbledon de 2008 tuve que jugar con el pie dormido desde el comienzo del partido"
— Movistar+ (@MovistarPlus) July 2, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.