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Rafa, Rafa, Fed, Fed, Rafa

india Updated: Jul 07, 2008 20:44 IST

Seldom have tennis classics risen to such heights. So close a contest was the longest Wimbledon final on Sunday that a flipped coin would have stood on its edge. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal almost defied the elements, the way they fought through wind, rain and darkness like two forces of nature.

Initially, Nadal’s high-speed forehands punched holes either side of the court, deep and wide, leaving Federer two sets behind. Federer then clawed back into the rain-interrupted match, winning two tense tie-breaks and keeping his dream of a record sixth successive Wimbledon title alive.

But Nadal resurfaced and made his net game every bit as clever as Federer’s. Only the Swiss’s big serve — 25 aces compared to Nadal’s six — and forehand down the line kept him in the match, helping him live up to his reputation of being arguably the best player ever. Unfortunately for ‘Fed Ex’, the post got lost when Nadal broke service in the 15th game of the final set.

Although Nadal’s victory shifts the balance of power in world tennis, the way they are playing, the two look like meeting again in a Wimbledon final. After all, Federer at 26 and Nadal at 22 have a lawn way to go in this long battle.