Here we go. This Nadal/Federer final is basically the only one of my Wimbledon predictions to come true and I’m glad it did. This could easily be the biggest match of either players career and it could be one of the best tennis matches ever. Of course, it could also be a straight-set massacre like the French Open Final where Nadal destroyed Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0. Before I even discuss the possible outcomes and resulting legacies of this match, it is remarkable to think that these two men are playing each other in yet another Grand Slam final. This is the third consecutive year that Nadal and Federer have met in the Wimbledon final with Federer having won the previous two, including a five-set thriller last year. The top two players in the year are so far above everyone else that they are a combined 86-15 in singles’ matches this year, with three of those 15 losses occurring when Federer and Nadal faced each other. They have a combine 7 singles titles this year (5 by Nadal), which will increase to 8 after today. Even more amazing, Federer has not lost a set and Nadal has lost only one set at Wimbledon this year.
Last year’s Wimbledon Final was an instant classic, but this year could be even better. Federer is the best grass-court player in the game, having won five consecutive Wimbledon Championships and going after his sixth today. Nadal is playing at the highest level of his career, dominating the French Open like he is Bjorn Borg and running through Wimbledon like he is Federer. Now Nadal faces the ultimate test. If he is able to upset Federer and take home the Wimbledon Championship, Nadal will become the first players since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Federer meanwhile has some history of his own at stake. If he wins, Federer will become the first player in the Open era to win six consecutive Wimbledon championships.
Nadal has strengthened his game dramatically over the past 18 months, increasing his serve speed by more than 10 mph, solidifying his backhand, and making his slice shot crisper. He is no doubt at the top of his game and I believe ready to give Federer a run on grass. I am a biased Nadal fan, but I think his time to break through Federer’s dominance on grass. It will be a quick, athletic match with long,drawn-out points and unbelievable shots. Federer and Nadal both have powerful serves so when Nadal and Federer get opportunitiesto break their opponent, they better capitalize on those chances. It will be a long five-set match, possibly even a fifth set that extends into extra games. I’m extremely excited for this match and expect some fantastic tense and some clutch shots by Nadal that will make him the 2008 Wimbledon champion.