Not since the truly memorably Monday final between Ivanisevic and Rafter six years ago has the tennis world seen such a memorable or high quality Wimbledon final as the one supplied by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on Sunday.
Of course, the similarities between the two epic matches would have been ever greater if not for some miraculous spells of sunshine in the latter half of the tournament which sealed a Sunday finish and spared the tournament and in particular its referees some embarrassment in the eyes of the next generation of fans and players.
So against the odds, the tournament finished on time, and against similar odds particularly in the first week, Venus Williams captured a stunning fourth singles title elevating the American into some prestigious company. Venus had the easier task of course, playing an inspired but hardly spectacular talent in Marian Bartoli. She took her victory in the typical Williams manner – a quick shake of the hand at the net followed by blind self indulgence and an all too knowing confidence that leaves a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth. After nearly four hours of awe-inspiring play, Roger took his fifth consecutive title with everlasting grace that the Williams sisters have never been capable of.
Federer respects his opponents both on and off the court.
Never does the Swiss taunt his rivals or use cheap tactics to throw them off guard (Serena and Andy Murray you know who you are!), and refreshingly neither does Nadal. The two men; both champions are in a different league, even from their immediate rivals in the lofty heights of the top ten. Roddick is still impatient and sometimes immature whilst Djokovic and Davydenko have yet to show the mentality and skill respectively to take them to a Grand Slam title.
The match was a glorious showcase of shots, worthy of any final even if it was another resounding reminder that the classic craft of the Serve and Volley game is fading quicker than its last great practitioner, Tim will return next year…so will Roger bidding for an historic sixth, and so will Rafa who for now will have to bide his time before his inevitable victory at SW19 for a few more years.
Fed image from the BBC