You used to be able to set your clock by Roger Federer. Usually at this time of year, you would find the Swiss with his trademark squint and smile parading around Centre Court at the All-England Club in Wimbledon with that famous gold trophy, usually. This year: "Ladies and gentlemen, the runner up, Roger Federer". Rafael Nadal is the new King of SW19. This evening, in the gathering gloom a disbelieving Nadal collected the Wimbledon trophy. Even during post match interviews he fondled it, wide eyed as a child, as though he still couldn't believe it were real.
The longest men's singles final in history proved to be an instant classic with Federer, fighting back from two sets down to take the match to a deciding fifth set. The power of Nadal seemed to suit the blustery conditions at Wimbledon as Federer's finesse game struggled in the early stages against the the power of the Nadal serve and groundstroke. Federer even at times resorting to the serve and volley game, which he abandoned in 2003, when the baseline shootouts the pair engaged in early on seemed to be going against him.
A break for weather seemed to engage Federer's game which, by his usually standards, had been wayward. He would come back to take the next two sets by tie break avoiding Championship point at the end of the fourth set to take Nadal to a thrilling decider. Federer had dragged himself back from the abyss. What had looked like it was to be a walkover moved towards an intense, edgy finale. This was Federer's championship, he was not about to allow his grass court crown to be usurped without a fight.
Thankfully for Rafael Nadal, there are few people on the men's ATP Tour who can fight as hard as he. Nadal eventually broke the Federer serve in the fifteenth game of a marathon final set and then held his own before collapsing, a Champion, onto the turf of the most famous court in the sport. The emotional Nadal then climbed into the stands to greet his family and then impudently walked across the dressing room roof to the royal box to shake hands with Prince Felipe of Spain.
So, Federer's record of 65 undefeated grass court games comes to an end and, most tellingly, perhaps his undisputed title as ruler of the tennis world. Though his record is still incredibly impressive, being one of only three men, Bjorn Borg and Willie Renshaw being the others, to have won at least five consecutive men's singles titles at Wimbledon.
History and records appear to be to Rafael Nadal as a red rag is to a bull. In winning the title here not only did he smash Federer's dream of surpassing the great Borg, but also became the first man since Borg in 1980 to win at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
What does this hold for the future of tennis? It would of course be folly to rule someone with the undisputable class and talent of Federer off, but his record against Nadal is now a poor 6-12, and Nadal has proven that there is no hiding place for the Swiss anymore, not even on grass. This could well be a watershed in Nadal's career, he has proven to himself more than anyone that Federer is touchable on grass.
What do you think? What were your thoughts on the final? Is this the dawning of the age of Taurus? Viva la revolucion?