Rafael Nadal now sits at 1,002 career wins. While the number of wins he has earned comfortably surpasses the losses, Nadal has experienced some heartbreaking defeats too. However, one of the main reasons that Nadal reached the pinnacle of the sport and has stayed there for a long time, is because of his ability to learn from defeats.
The Spanish legend recently took some questions from fans. One of those questions was about which loss taught him the most for the subsequent phase in his career. Nadal gave it a thought and said, “Maybe the final of Wimbledon in 2007 have been an important one for me.”
The second half of that decade was all about the rivalry between Nadal and Roger Federer. They contested each other in three straight French Open and Wimbledon finals from 2006 to 2008. While Nadal was always the favorite on clay, Federer always dominated on grass.
Heartbreaking loss for Rafael Nadal
Nadal entered the 2007 final on the back of his third Grand Slam title in Paris. Nadal stretched Federer to five sets on the SW19 grass, something not many expected him to do. For the first time, Nadal, who was back then considered to be weak to an extent on surfaces other than clay, went toe-to-toe with the ‘King of Grass’, under pressure.
Although Nadal ultimately lost that match, many other players in Nadal’s place probably would have been satisfied to stretch Federer to the limit at Wimbledon. Nadal later revealed in his autobiography that he could not control his tears in the locker room after the Wimbledon 2007 finals loss.
Rafa got another chance to conquer Federer at Wimbledon the following year. This time, the two men produced one of the greatest matches in Grand Slam history.
How Nadal turned the tables in 2008
Nadal stunned Federer and the tennis fraternity and won the first two sets in the 2008 final. Federer struck back with two tie-break wins. Nadal was reminded of what happened in 2007, with another fifth set looming against an in-form Federer.
However, Nadal learned from the loss in 2007. He was determined to not let the match slip away this time. The then 22-year-old defeated Federer 9-7 in the fifth set and won his maiden Wimbledon title.
Nadal expressed that the 2007 loss was a great learning curve and prepared him for the final in 2008. The win was momentous for him as he proved his range outside the clay courts on the biggest stage.
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