Pappas: Nadal dethrones Federer in historic Wimbledon match

By By Nick Pappas

By Nick Pappas

After years of rain, the final was a match for the ages.

Four hours and 48 minutes to be exact. A lot can be accomplished in that time. It’s half my day at work and an extended Pat’s Barbecue lunch. It’s a third season marathon of “The Office” on a boring Sunday afternoon.

At Wimbledon, it was nothing short of brilliance. A five-set extravaganza that ended with the sun going down literally on the dominance of Roger Federer.

Until this match, Wimbledon had been as boring as a rainy day in London. It was like reading a book, but already knowing the ending. It was knowing what “rosebud” meant before watching “Citizen Kane.”

All the newspapers, Internet sites and cardigan-wearing tennis enthusiasts have told you it was the finest grand slam ever played, and sometimes the majority rules. It can be included in any conversation with Bjrn Borg and John McEnroe. It is the older, mature brother of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. It seemed fitting for the event to have such a lasting appeal. Wimbledon is more like a theatre than a stadium. Its matches have been closer to Shakespeare than the Super Bowl. Although four hours and 48 minutes was the official running time, the whole event lasted more than seven hours if you include the rain delays.

Modern marvels will end all that. Starting next year, a see-through roof will rise above Centre Court. It will give the impression of the elements without that damp feeling. It might be for the best, but one can imagine the intrigue lost, the feeling that the games will become CliffsNotes of their former selves.

For one last time, they were not. I sat in my living room and listened to the gasps and groans of my roommates combining with the claps and murmurs of the London fans. It all ended with Rafael Nadal flat on his back, perhaps willing and ready to die happily as he finally broke Federer’s five-year Wimbledon streak. It was a streak that lasted 40 matches in a row. It turned an inevitable yawn into an incredible yelp.

It’s the best thing that could have happened to tennis. During the last five years, everything seemed to slide into place like a puzzle. There was no mystery to the game. Yet, this year, Federer has felt backhanded. He was beaten easily at the Australian Open in the semifinals and was a casual walk in the park for Nadal in the French Open.

The greatest moment in all of sports is the passing of the guard. It’s the moment where the apprentice becomes the master. Nadal knew he would have to improve his serve to beat Federer, and he did just that. He moved fluidly, changing pace, keeping his opponent stepping backward in a victorious dance.

The numbers tell the story. Federer is 6-12 versus Nadal and now 2-4 against him in Grand Slams.

When McEnroe battled Borg in the 1980 final, it defined the sport for a generation. As tennis prepares to gain new fans from an Internet-savvy generation with an attention span equal to the bandwidth of a YouTube video, this match was a last, desperate gasp. We are still here. We are still meaningful.

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