The greatest current one-on-one battle in all of sports.


As a stupid guy once famously said in a super movie, “Sorry I had ta fight in da middle of ya black pantha pawwty,” but I can’t let another day pass without opining on the greatest tennis match I ever did see.

(No worries. Another Greg Williams serving arrives this afternoon.)

I fully understand I’m in the minority, loving and playing tennis and all. But if you watched Sunday’s classic Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal I don’t have to sell you on why it can be the most riveting, fascinating and dramatic of all sports.

No timeouts. No coaches. No clock. Just mano y mano. And for an astounding four hours and 48 minutes, each point ascended in significance. Nadal, the boy who would be king, had three match points. Federer, the undisputed king, flirted within two points of a record sixth consecutive Wimbledon.

Finally, in darkness and in immortality, Federer netted a forehand that sent Nadal onto his back and into history with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 victory. It was simply the best Wimbledon final I’ve ever seen, topping the one that first got me involved in the sport -- the 1980 match when Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe in five sets despite losing an epic fourth-set tie-breaker by an amazing 18-16. In honor of my new Swedish idol, I started growing my hair long the next day.

Some of America agrees with me as the final drew a 4.6 TV rating, best for a title tilt not involving an American since ’91. But, of course, a repeat of America’s Funniest Home Videos earned a 5.5 later Sunday night so, yeah, the sport has a looong road back to relevancy.

We're not exactly on the brink of another WCT Finals in the Metroplex, but don't think Jerry Jones hasn't thought of packing his new Jonestown Coliseum with a Federer-Nadal exhibition. Or maybe that was me that just of thought it. Not bad, huh?

Roger vs. Rafa can yank tennis out of the sports sewer, even with U.S. men’s tennis at one of its all-time lowest points. (No American man made it out of the third round in London.) Nadal is 22 and Federer only 26, yet they’ve already met in six Grand Slam finals, something Borg-McEnroe or Sampras-Agassi ever accomplished.

When they play it’s like watching Ali-Frazier, or even Tiger vs. Tiger.

If you missed the match you can watch it on ESPN Classic round the clock over the next week. And if you caught it live, I don’t have to tell you that the U.S. Open final is set for Sept. 7. -- Richie Whitt

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