Jul 7, 2008

Sport - Final Drama provides Special Ending

Just when you thought this tournament had seen everything – and it had seen a lot of things: Venus Williams winning her fifth title; the top four ladies’ seeds all eliminated by the end of the first week; the resurgence of Marat Safin; a first British girls’ winner since 1984 – this topped it all.It will be called the greatest final ever. It was certainly the longest at 4 hours 48 minutes, and that is without the two rain delays.On occasions, Nadal and Federer could only shake their heads and marvel at the quality of their opponent's shots. They were spectators, like the rest of us, to a masterclass in tennis. On other occasions, shots that would have beaten any other player were returned as winners.Not only was the tennis of the highest quality, it was of the nerve-wracking variety as well: Federer went down two sets to love, he saved two Championship points, Nadal lost two tie-breakers, the fifth set was still going as it was getting darker, the players were tired. It was all too much.When the dust settled, Nadal was the new champion, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7, and no one who saw this unforgettable match could say he didn’t deserve it.All the talk had been about Federer breaking Bjorn Borg's record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles, it was the second seed who upstaged Borg, by becoming the first player to win back-to-back at the French Open and Wimbledon.The other matches that day, despite the quality of their tennis, were eclipsed by this finale. For the record, Samantha Stosur and Bob Bryan won the mixed doubles, Jessica Moore and Polona Hercog claimed the girls’ doubles, while Chinese Taipei duo Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Tsung-Hua Yang were crowned boys’ doubles champions. In the Wheelchairs Masters Series, Dutch duo Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink retained their Wimbledon title.Yet it is to the men's singles final that we must return, and a final comment from the two protagonists. "In tennis, unfortunately there has to be winners and losers, there’s no draws," Federer said. "But I really had to push hard to come back. And I wasn't able to break him in the last three sets, but still I pushed him right to the edge. It's probably my hardest loss, by far. I mean, it's not much harder than this right now.""I just say, 'Good tournament. Sorry'," is how Nadal relayed his thoughts to Federer after the match. "Because I know how tough is lose a final like this. This is tougher than last year, and last year I was very disappointing in the end. So he is a great champion, no? His attitude always is positive when he lose, when he win. Always accept the victories and the losses with the same humble for him."A line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If was the last thing the players saw before they entered Centre Court, yet it is another stanza that so aptly summed up this final:If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on'Wimbledon 2008 winnersMen’s singles — Rafael NadalLadies’ singles — Venus WilliamsMen’s doubles — Daniel Nestor and Nenad ZimonjicLadies doubles — Serena Williams and Venus WilliamsMixed doubles — Samantha Stosur and Bob BryanWheelchairs Masters Series — Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald VinkBoys’ singles — Grigor DimitrovGirls’ singles — Laura RobsonGirls’ doubles — Jessica Moore and Polona HercogBoys’ doubles — Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Tsung-Hua YangGentlemen’s invitation doubles — Donald Johnson and Jared PalmerLadies invitation doubles — Jana Novotna and Kathy RinaldiSenior gentlemen’s invitation doubles — Ken Flach and Robert Seguso

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