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Federer, Nadal spark contest at last
July 09, 2007 11:08 IST
It took 13 matches and more than three years to come alive but on Sunday Roger Federer [Images] and Rafael Nadal [Images] finally produced a riveting battle that proved a genuine rivalry in men's tennis is now established.
Before Sunday's Wimbledon final, the duo had locked horns 12 times, with Nadal emerging the victor on eight of those occasions.
While two of their previous matches had gone to five sets, none had been on the Grand Slam stage.
Sunday's three-hour 45 minute classic changed all that.
"I win my share. He wins his. It's a good rivalry, I think," world number one Federer said after he beat his Spanish bogeyman 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2.
"We've been at the top for over a hundred weeks together. It is like building up to one of the great rivalries.
"But we sometimes haven't lived up to the expectations in the past, in our matches in majors especially. I think that was maybe a bit of a problem.
"But you can't always play five set match thrillers. I'm happy it happened today. I left as the winner. Was perfect."
Since Federer is only 25 and Nadal is four years younger, the duo's rivalry could go on for years.
They have now contested four of the last six Grand Slam finals and are split at 2-2. While Nadal has denied Federer the French Open crown over the last two years, the Swiss has quelled the fire and fury of Nadal on his favourite turf at Wimbledon over the same period.
Fans would love to see more five-set thrillers between the two but Federer is relieved that at least this time, he emerged triumphant and joined Bjorn Borg as the only men to have won five successive Wimbledon titles.
"It's my first Grand Slam final where I won in five sets. That obviously alone is going to get emotions out of you because you're drained towards the end, you know, mentally and physically.