Woo-wee! That was monumental. Clearly, however, Nadal has had his teeth in this idea of going 1-2 with the French and Wimbly this year for some time, and today, he brought his goal to fruition. Props to the guy for becoming the first since Borg to pull it off.
Props to both men for making McEnroe insist that it was the best match he had ever seen. And then cry.
Assuming you haven't got the result yet, Fed dropped the first two sets, 4-6 4-6, then recovered to win the next two in tiebreaks, fending off championship points in the fourth set to force a fifth. No breakers at the All England Club, so they play it out. Fed has the advantage of serving first, but every time he nibbles into Rafa's service games, Rafa is up to the challenge. The Nadal breaks to go up 8-7, Fed pulls off a single great backhand return to stay in it, but Rafa closes it out 9-7. QED, five-time Wimbledon champ DETHRONED!
In all honesty, I think you have to give credit to RF for hanging tough against a RN who is definitely playing out of his mind right now and is certainly the true World Number One, not by the official ranking but by locker-room consent. I think Fed had his moments but as many have already noted, he did not look as if he had much more left in him once that fifth set pressed into the twilight. Nadal, on the other hand, looked as if he might keep holding serve until 2010.
Tactically, Fed's return was exceptionally not good and probably cost him the final. He simply did not seem capable, in the final set, of taking Nadal's serves and putting them back across the net with any urgency. This is of course a consequence of the decline of the importance of dagger-like returning on grass. If anything, Roger's serve is even more impressive than in years past.
And I think the master is losing some speed, which is an inevitable occurrence as one gets on in years. Sampras replaced quickness with strength as he matured--note how much beefier he looked and played in later Slam finals, compared with his early wins--and could always focus on huge serving and brisk points, combined with one-service-break sets and tiebreaks, to carry him through. RF, on the other hand, has a complete game that unfortunately also requires more ongoing maintenance to keep sharp. As quick as Nadal is, Fed needs to remain speedy to compete. Sampras would have tried to blow Rafa off the court with S&V. And if RF wants to restore parity, that's where he needs to go.
And he needs to improve his return--which as we know, Pete once remarked was the key to his winning at Wimbledon.
My goodness, though, could Nadal be more effective with his remarkably hideous yet joyfully successful game? He's kinda sui generis, if you ask me. Like some kind of weird hybrid of McEnroe, Borg, and Connors.