PARIS (Reuters) - Of all the perfect points Roger Federer has played in his stellar career, the 17-times grand slam champion singled out one from possibly one of his harshest defeats - the 2008 Wimbledon final.
Asked by French sports daily L’Equipe on Friday to pick the landmark moments in his career, the Swiss chose two memorable points, mentioned the day he cried after a defeat, revealed the day he had most doubts and the time he would like to relive.
“I have two (perfect points). The match point I saved in 2008 against Rafa (Nadal) at Wimbledon (in the final). It wasn’t the shot itself but the importance it had in the match, as it allowed me to survive until a fifth set,” he said.
“It was this point, this shot, which gave the match a mythic quality. The second is the one I hit through my legs against Brian Dabul in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2010. It was lovely shot, perfect and difficult to do because I was long way from the net.”
But the defeat that hurt him most was not the 2008 Wimbledon final.
“I was really inconsolable in 2000 after my defeat by Tommy Haas in the semi-finals of the Olympic Games in Sydney. When I lost I curled up in a corner like a child for a long time,” Federer said.
“I could not stop crying. That defeat marked me. I lost the next day against (Frenchman) Arnaud di Pasquale and again I wept the whole day. But that night I met Mirka (now his wife) and kissed her for the first time.”
Federer has not reached the final of a grand slam since his Wimbledon triumph two years ago and has slipped to world number four.
The Swiss maestro also revealed his self-doubts last year.
“After Gstaad ... I couldn’t get my physical condition back. I had injured myself at Hamburg playing soccer and my back was giving me problems. It was intense moment because I didn’t know whether my back would hold up.”
Going back through the years, Federer stopped the clock in 2001 to recall the day he beat Pete Sampras at the All England Club.
“The day I beat (Pete) Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001 (in the last 16). I don’t know how but on match point I knew he was going to serve wide,” he said.
“I waited, and he didn’t hit the serve perfectly. I was on the ball and just needed to make good contact. I hit my return very well and he couldn’t get to it. Winning that match was quite a thing. It was huge. Those five seconds I would like to relive.”
Reporting by Robert Woodward; Editing by Julien Pretot