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Nadal’s Confession: Spaniard started 2008 Wimbledon final with his foot asleep

Rafael Nadal has played through pain on many occasions over the course of his career. But we didn’t know the Spaniard was suffering so much in 2008 when he tackled Roger Federer for his first Wimbledon title.

Nadal Wimbledon 2008 Victoire et joie de Rafael Nadal (esp) apres 5 set – Wimbledon – Finale – 06.07.2008 – J13 – Tennis – ATP – Homme Hommes Messieurs Masculins – largeur attitude joie victoire a terre au sol tomber

More than a decade after recording one of his most important titles, Rafael Nadal has revealed that his epic triumph over Roger Federer in five sets at Wimbledon in 2008 was made more complicated by a foot injury that forced him to start the match with a numbed foot due to anesthesia. 

“I have never told, but in the 2008 Wimbledon final I had to play with my foot asleep from the start of the match,” Nadal told Movistar+ of his experience in the 2008 Wimbledon final. “I had to play with my foot asleep for several games.”

The start of the match was delayed by 35 minutes by rain, complicating matters further for Nadal and his medical team.

An 80-minute rain delay in the third set and another 30-minute stoppage late in the match made the experience even trickier for the Spaniard. 

Nadal took the first two sets before Federer famously rallied and eventually saved two championship points to force a fifth set. In the end Nadal triumphed 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7 to claim his first Wimbledon title and stop Federer’s winning streak at the All England Club at 40 matches, just one shy of Bjorn Borg’s all-time record.

At the time, Nadal saw it as a victory for his country as much as he did for himself.

“For any Spanish player win here is unbelievable. For every player, no, but for the Spanish especially, because we don’t have a lot of titles here, and have one is unbelievable,” he said.

The final lasted four hours and 48 minutes, which was the longest Wimbledon final ever until Federer and Djokovic played for four hours and 57 minutes in the 2019 Wimbledon final. 

“Without anesthesia, I couldn’t play because I couldn’t support my foot, but it lasted,” said Nadal. “The rain stops complicated everything.”

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