'If I had lost to Nadal it would have been a big blow'

For a man who had just won a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, Roger Federer was hardly overcome with emotion in the immediate aftermath on Centre Court. There was none of the falling to his knees which had marked his first win at SW19. Instead, as he raised his head to the heavens, he looked overwhelmingly like a man relieved.

As well he might be after a match where the 20-year-old opponent who had beaten him in six of their last seven matches, including the French Open final a month earlier, looked briefly as if he was ready to extend his reputation as the supreme clay-court player to the surface which was supposed to be Federer's own domain.

"We are loving this rivalry," the BBC's Sue Barker said to him in her post-match, on-court interview. "I guess you are not feeling the same way?"

Federer responded, with a grin: "Now I like it again," raising a ripple of laughter from a crowd which had been so deeply appreciative of his grace and talent even as it rooted raucously on occasions for the more dramatic flourishes of the young Spaniard.

The Swiss acknowledged afterwards the particular pressure that had come to bear on him in this tournament, and this final. "I was very well aware of how important this match was for me," he said. "If I had lost to him, obviously it would have been a hard blow, losing the French Open and Wimbledon back to back. It was important for me to beat him for a change. I thought Wimbledon was going to be my easiest way, but it turned out to be tough."

For all that he has embellished his credentials as a player en route for the high achievements of Bjorn Borg, whose total of five Wimbledon wins he plans to equal next year, and seven-times winner Pete Sampras, Federer revealed that he had had doubts on the eve of these latest Championships.

"Coming from maybe the loss in Paris ... then I looked at the draw. Everybody was talking about the streak from Borg. I thought, this draw looks like this streak might come to an end very soon. Not because I might play bad, but because I have really dangerous opponents. These things go through your head. And I didn't think that maybe I hold the trophy again. It only came once I beat Ancic in the quarters."

Nadal took comfort in the way he had rallied after losing the first set 6-0, but he could not help but reflect ruefully on losing his serve while serving for the second set at 5-4. "Maybe in these moments, maybe I lost the match, no?" Federer, too, pinpointed that moment as being crucial.

The contrast in styles could hardly have been greater before the match. Federer stood at the net awaiting the toss looking so relaxed in his personalised cream blazer that it seemed as if he might not bother to take it off for the match. Nadal arrived like a boxer coming forward to touch gloves, wired with nervous energy, dancing from foot to foot.

You wondered for a moment if the young man who had joked about putting his opponent off in the locker-room by giving him a shove might throw a couple of sharp lefts to the champion's chin.

Instead he turned and sprinted back to his baseline as if desperate to get things under way. It was Federer, however, who did the racing as he took the first set to love, using his sliced backhand to nullify the scope of Nadal's hugely powerful groundstrokes.

However, Nadal made Federer uncomfortable enough, often enough, to provide real hope for a future breakthrough. "It is important for me for the future to believe I can win here," he said. "I can beat Roger too." Can he eventually prove to be McEnroe to Federer's Borg? Don't bet against it.

Wimbledon roll of honour

* MEN'S SINGLES Roger Federer (Swit)

* WOMEN'S SINGLES Amélie Mauresmo (Fr)

* MEN'S DOUBLES Bob Bryan & Michael Bryan (US)

* MIXED DOUBLES Vera Zvonareva (Rus) & Andy Ram (Isr)

* BOY'S SINGLES Thiemo De Bakker (Netherlands)

* GIRL'S SINGLES Caroline Wozniacki (Den)

* MEN'S OVER-45 DOUBLES Kevin Curren and Johan Kriek (US).

* MEN'S OVER-35 DOUBLES Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (Aus)

* WOMEN'S OVER-35 DOUBLES Ros Nideffer (US) and Jana Novotna (Cz Rep)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'