Not all tennis matches are equal, in their importance and ability to captivate. According to us and most other people who care about such issue, the two main factors making up the magnitude of a match are the quality of the match, and a more abstract significance that cannot simply be referred as a 'turning point moment.' A match has stood out in our minds when thinking of this, and naturally it comes off the top of our heads when this issue is brought up to us. This article is a product of such.
What match are we talking about? The 2008 Wimbledon final
This match is conventionally dubbed the best men's to have ever been played in the history of tennis, not for no reason. The match was supremely played out. The match was less dynamic than the 2006 and 2007 Wimbledon finals (both played out by Federer and Nadal too) - it would be no exaggeration to say that this final felt like a siege. The lack of movement however is a function of the intensity and quality of the game played out by the two legends. Federer was able to move Nadal around more, and angled shots from Nadal naturally return, in the two Wimbledon finals before this one, as he was able to probe more easily into Nadal's defence for opportunities to either hit a winning or substantially compromising shot. Wimbledon 2008 was significantly different, with Nadal's improved defence. The result of matching the best defender and the best attacker of the tennis world at that time, is the most spectacular match that was played out (at least according to us).
The match was also second to none in having immense significance on a more abstract level which defies any neat definition. In our opinion, this marked the start of the age of Federer-Nadal age. This of course overturned the idea of the age of Federer (which assumed that Federer, given the lack of any true challengers during his time, would achieve a level of dominance more ridiculously total than what he actually achieved. How did it mark the start of such an age? It proved that Nadal has the ability to overthrow Federer on the surface which he supposedly will never lost on, despite having a western-gripped forehand which supposedly puts him at a massive disadvantage on grass (in theory actually, this is very true). So, the logic goes that if Nadal can win on the surface which is his supposed greatest weakness, he can win on all the others. How true this turned out to be! This could also be seen as the match which pushed Federer off from the top, not in the sense of not being able to win any more grand slams but having a challenger who not merely poses a significant danger to him, but who he cannot beat. Imagine how shockingly unprecedented this was given that the man had virtually no serious challengers for 5 long years! Adding to these is the fairytale-like storyline of the very match itself - Federer losing the first two sets, won the next two sets in dramatic fashion which is supposed to give him the momentum to finish off the last set and the match, but loses unexpectantly as Nadal's grit holds back the momentum. Thinking about the exact thing(s) that make this triplet of turns so breaththinking, even fascinating, we believe the overturning of expectations one after another is it. It is the same kind of feeling incited in a typical school joke who just realized that the computer nerd he has been picking on for the past few weeks, is a better tennis player than he his, except that it is felt on a profound level. Having said all these, it must not be left unsaid that the two greatest passing shots back to back in tennis history happened during this match!
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