So…was that the best ever Wimbledon final?


Originally published on: 26/02/10 14:14

Maybe we’re biased. Maybe we’re too young. Maybe we’re still caught up in the emotion of it all.

But there is no doubt among the Tennishead crew that the 2008 Wimbledon final, which saw Rafael Nadal dethrone Roger Federer as champion, was the greatest Wimbledon final they’d seen.

Perhaps the greatest final. We’d even put it up there as one of the greatest tennis matches. Ever.

“Let’s be unequivocal: This was the greatest match ever played…”

And it appears we’re not alone in that belief. Sports Illustrated thinks so too.

SI’s senior writer Jon Werthelm was left in no doubt. In a spellbinding mens final that will stand as the benchmark against which all other future tennis matches will be measured, Rafael Nadal dethroned Federer, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7.

“Lets be unequivocal: This was the greatest match ever played. It also doubled as a four-hour, 48-minute infomercial for everything right and virtuous about tennis.

Around the world, the great and the good of the world’s sports writers have passed judgement. Here’s a few of our favourites:

“This truly was history being made and though the elements tried to intervene, they could not stop this becoming a masterpiece. The wind buffeted and blew, the rain came and darkness fell but still this was tennis of the very highest standard that mere mortals can only dream of recreating.”
Barry Flatman, The Sunday Times

“I think I have just witnessed the greatest match I have ever seen. The drama, the quality and the way it ended when it seemed as though more tennis could possibly be played was remarkable, to put it mildly.”
John McEnroe

“It was a memorable victory in the best final in the history of Wimbledon.”
AS, the Spanish sports daily

“I always thought Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe in 1980 was No. 1,” “but this was better. This was the heavyweight championship in the world of tennis, a singular match in Wimbledon’s history.
Veteran Australian commentator Bud Collins, who has covered 41 finals at the All England Club

On Sunday, though, pure and raw competition ruled. Numerical proof: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7. Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what we crave? Isn’t that what sports is, or should be, or was supposed to be? The match even brought Mother Nature to tears on three different occasions.
Gordon Monson, Salt Lake Tribune

“Some say the Wimbledon final between Borg and McEnroe the year McEnroe lost is the best tennis match ever. Some say Sunday’s final between the young brave from Spain and the master of Swiss good timing was as good, if not better. In the hours that followed, you thought, yes, that was that good, that was history, this is one of the moments in sport you’ll remember.”
Martin Flanagan, The Age

The stronger inclination is to return to SW19 and hoist a flag or plant a tree and reaffirm that here, on Sunday 6 July 2008, we not only saw the greatest tennis match ever played, we were also given, cleanly, beautifully, the very essence of all that is best in sport and in a way I had never quite seen before and do not confidently expect ever to see again.
James Lawton, The Independent

Of course, not everyone agreed. Some commentators out there were keen to press home encounters that have stood the test of time, others urged a sense of perspective – and the occasional columnist was just out to pick a fight…

“A singular match in Wimbledon’s history…”

Great tennis is more than just repeatedly making tremendous shots, which Nadal and Federer both did with amazing consistency Sunday. Their talent is unmistakable. They have all my respect, just not the corresponding interest. I don’t think a couple of polite Europeans are at the vanguard of a new tennis explosion. I long for a little attitude. Long for matchups intriguing beyond the double vs. the single backhand.
Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Daily News

Although it had been eagerly anticipated as the latest instalment in one of the great rivalries of modern sport, it came close to being no more than a meek abdication by Federer.
Stuart Bathgate, The Scotsman

I’m not going to call Nadal vs. Federer the greatest match I’ve ever seen. We’re too quick to forget that McEnroe and Borg engaged in two, perhaps three, of the greatest matches ever, including a four-setter at the U.S. Open in 1981 that sent a defeated Borg from the stadium court to a waiting limousine to Kennedy Airport to his home in Europe and into retirement shortly thereafter.
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post

It was, by acclamation, one of the finest Grand Slam finals ever played, one that moved seamlessly into the conversation with the marathon between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe here in 1980. But the 1980 match was the one that lived on most vividly, becoming a staple of television coverage during rain breaks for the last 28 years. Federer and Nadal will not receive the same treatment.
Christopher Clarey, The New York Times

There’s just no pleasing some people.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.