When Roger Federer sent his forehand long off the baseline, while trying to cut back three championship points for Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, the Spaniard found himself on his knees, unable to contain the burst of emotion after winning his sixth title at Roland Garros, and probably, his toughest.
The game lasted a total of three hours and 39 minutes in which Fed could have seen things go his way had he managed to convert a set point in the first. As things panned out though, he didn't. Nadal pounced on his chance, won the first set, took the second in a tie-breaker and though Fed got the third, Nadal breezed through the fourth to earn a well deserved record equaling sixth title. He also ensured that Djokovic wouldn't take the number one spot in the world rankings.
Having equaled the great Bjorn Borg's record, thereby cementing his place in the tennis archives as an all-time great, one could ask the question as to whether the Spaniard has surpassed Borg as the all-time King of clay.
If he already isn't, he is well on his way to do just that. He just turned 25 on Friday, and will have his fair share of opportunities to take a seventh title at Roland Garros. He could even go on to surpass Federer as the highest grand slam winner, seeing as he has won 10 already, with Fed holding 16.
Being the humble champion that he is, Nadal said he was honored to have equaled Borg's record.
It's very special to equal the six French Opens of Bjorn Borg - it's an honor to be compared to Borg, he said. But the most important thing is to win Roland Garros.
It has been tougher than usual for Nadal, since he didn't seem to be in the best of form, evident when he took five sets to dispatch John Isner in the very first round. Nadal explained that this hard-fought win would be held dearer than the title he won last year, where he didn't drop a set.
Nadal said, To win this kind of title is always satisfying. But sometimes when you fight a lot to win, when you try your best in every moment to change the situation, it makes the title more special. For example, in 2008 I think I played better than ever, but I finished the tournament and I didn't feel that I won Roland Garros because I won in three sets every round.
It was a nail-biting encounter as Fed broke Nadal early and had a set point at 5-2. However, his drop shot sneaked wide, allowing Nadal to get back into the game. Federer's first serve seemed to desert him when it mattered most while Nadal improved his own game.
Afterwards, Nadal claimed that Fed was unlucky.
He was a little bit unlucky in the first set, and after that he came back fantastically well in the second. In the third I had 4-2 but I think he played very, very well from that moment to the beginning of the fourth. When Roger plays like this, the opponent cannot do anything sometimes.
I just waited for my moment, tried to be there all the time, tried to put him in difficult situations. Saving the 0-40 (in game one of the fourth set) was very important for me. That was a big turning point of the match.
After his postponed birthday celebrations, the Spaniard will turn his attention to Wimbledon, where he will once again resume his rivalry with Federer and Djokovic. The Swiss looks reinvigorated and having won six Wimbledon titles in his career, Fed may well add to his overflowing grand slam trophy cabinet.
But he will once again have to get past both Djokovic and Nadal, and it promises to be another epic fortnight of some high-quality tennis.