Sunday, July 06, 2008

Today's Wimbledon tennis men's singles final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer -- one that former champion John McEnroe has been quoted as calling the "greatest match I've ever seen" -- also had plenty to offer on the streakiness front ( article). With Nadal's 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 victory, here's what the men's tennis landscape now looks like.

*Federer had his streak of five consecutive Wimbledon men's singles titles snapped, keeping him in a tie with Bjorn Borg for the modern record. William Renshaw won six straight between 1881-1986.

*Federer had also won 65 straight matches overall on grass surfaces.

*Nadal became the first male player since Borg in 1980 to win both the French Open and Wimbledon titles in the same year (these, along with the Australian and U.S. Open tournaments, comprise the "Grand Slam" of tennis). Nadal, in fact, has won the last four French Open titles, the last three by beating Federer in the finals.

*According to the statistics of the final match (which can be accessed via this scoreboard), Nadal won every game except one on his own serve, with Federer going only 1-for-13 on break-point opportunities (Nadal was 4-for-13).

*Had Federer been able to successfully complete his Houdini-type comeback attempt, what would have stood out as a turning point is the eighth game of the third set, with Federer trailing two sets to none and 3-4 in games. As described in this "Minute-by-Minute" journal from the UK's Guardian newspaper:

Big points win matches, and at the key moments of this final Federer has been found wanting... But this game could change everything. Nadal opens with a brilliant improvised backhand pass and quickly races to a 0-40 lead. But Federer - effectively staring defeat in the face - gets himself out of trouble with some big serving, reeling off five points in a row to hold. Courageous stuff...

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