The centre court never has been in more rapture than it was during the fourth set of the 2008 Men’s Singles finals. Never before did anybody witness greatness of that magnitude and skill of that eminence before. But what stole the show in the entire match, was arguably the best tennis shot, a backhand winner that saved Federer at Championship Point in set four against arch-rival Nadal.
When you see Roger coming up with something like that, it makes you question which realm of tennis he actually plays in. The genius required to pull the best tennis shot under that trepidation is beyond belief.
As David Foster Wallace puts it, “Genius is not replicable. Inspiration, though, is contagious, and multiform- and even just to see, close up, power and aggression made vulnerable to beauty is to feel inspired and (in a fleeting, mortal way) reconciled.”
Later, when asked about the nerve and the timing that went into that potentially transforming moment, Federer shrugged and said: “Some shots you have to play – you see it and you do it and you don’t think about it going wrong. You just do what you know you have to do.”
Roger, now a 20-time major champion, is the most ravishing because he makes us feel memories, he makes us want to hold them in our hands. He shows what should be done with the time that remains, live it, as he showers his magic. In rejoicing, victorious way. That moment at Wimbledon certainly goes down in history as the best tennis shot, or one of the best- both for its quality and magnitude.
However, the best tennis shot contender proved futile as Nadal went on to win the Wimbledon title that year. It would be his first Wimbledon championship and the first time he ever triumphed on a surface other than clay. Many also regard this match as one of the greatest, if not the greatest tennis match of all time.
Tennis legend John McEnroe describes it as “the greatest match ever played” and, 11 years on, the 2008 Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer remains the high point of a rivalry that continues to attract the highest attention in tennis world.