Wimbledon 2008: John McEnroe hails Rafael Nadal victory as greatest final ever
By Richard Alleyne
Last Updated: 9:48am BST 07/07/2008
Rafael Nadal's epic victory over Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final was the "greatest ever seen", according to John McEnroe, the three times winner of the event.
The world number one turned television commentator made his comments after the five-set match on Centre Court which at four hours 48 minutes long was definitely the longest.
"This is the greatest match I've ever seen," said John McEnroe, whose final against Jimmy Connors in 1982, had previously been the longest final.
It was bigger than the increase in demand at half time during this year's Champions' League match when Manchester United beat Chelsea.
National Grid spokeswoman Isobel Rowley said the surge was huge because fans were so transfixed by the tennis, they could not move from the sofa to switch the lights on until the end.
Such was the rivalry between the two players, that the match also smashed betting records. Almost £10 million was staked on the match, according to initial estimates - breaking the £8 million record set just days ago when Nadal crushed Andy Murray in the quarter finals.
Scores of punters were frantically biting their nails as the match went on late into the evening. One eventually won £55,000 after backing Nadal to the tune of £10,000 a month ago - at odds of 9/2, said bookmakers William Hill.
Hills spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "What you have here are two players at the peak of their powers and popularity. "They are almost a tennis soap opera - traditional Federer appeals to the mums and dads with his cardigan, and Nadal is the modern sex symbol, appealing to kids with his sleeveless vests.
"That's why so many people put money on them."
Meanwhile, Federer admitted he was on the brink of calling for the match to be stopped and restarted the next day because the light was becoming so bad.
He said: "It would have been brutal for the fans and us to come back but it was rough on me to lose the biggest tournament in the world because of the light.
"It was not a whole lot of fun, but that's the way it is. It's over, what's the point in arguing about it?"
The five-times champion will now find his number one ranking under threat, and he added: "I wasn't able to break him in the last three sets but still I managed to push him right to the edge.
"Probably later on in life I'll go 'That was a great match.' I'm happy the way I fought. That's all I could really do."