Rafael Nadal reveals the two most important matches of his career – and one is surprising

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal in Brisbane
Rafael Nadal in Brisbane at an event in Brisbane

Rafael Nadal has revealed the two most important matches of his career and named one obvious choice, along with a more surprising selection. 

The legendary Spaniard picked his epic 2008 Wimbledon final triumph over Roger Federer, as well as his painful defeat to Novak Djokovic in the gruelling 2012 Australian Open final.

At the 2008 Wimbledon Championships, Nadal overcame his great rival, Federer, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 6-7(8-10), 9-7 in a thrilling final to claim his first title at the All England Club.

The contest is regarded by many as one of the greatest matches in tennis history and it saw Nadal win his fifth Grand Slam title and first outside the French Open.

In the final of the 2012 Australian Open, Nadal was edged out 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5-7), 7-5 by his other biggest rival, Djokovic, in an amazing and brutal encounter.

At an incredible five hours and 53 minutes, the marathon final — which is also considered an all-time classic — is the longest match in Australian Open history and the longest major singles final ever.

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During his wide-ranging interview with La Sexta’s El Objetivo, Nadal addressed which matches stood above the rest from his remarkable career.

“Roland Garros is undoubtedly the most important tournament of my career. Concerning the special matches, it’s true that I have never experienced a five-set final in Paris,” the 37-year-old said.

“So I would say the 2008 Wimbledon final won against Roger Federer and the 2012 Australian Open final lost against Novak Djokovic. I lost, but I took a step forward in my career that day.”

The 22-time Grand Slam champion made his long-awaited comeback at the Brisbane International last month, where he reached the quarter-finals. The Mallorcan withdrew from the 2024 Australian Open due to a hip muscle injury that emerged during his defeat to Jordan Thompson in Brisbane.

Prior to Brisbane, Nadal had not played a singles match for almost a year — since losing to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open, where he sustained a hip injury. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to treat the psoas muscle in his hip in June 2023.

Nadal hoped to make his return from his latest setback at the ATP 250 tournament in Doha this week, but he was forced to withdraw.

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“I would have loved to play in Doha, where the tournament team, as well as the amazing Qatar fans, have always supported me greatly,” said Nadal in a social media post.

“Unfortunately I am not ready to compete and I won’t be able to come to Doha where I really wanted to be and play again after that unforgettable win in 2014. I will focus on keep working to be ready for the exhibition in Las Vegas and the amazing Indian Wells tournament.”

The Spaniard is aiming to compete at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells next month, which will run from March 6-17. Before that, Nadal will play his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in the ‘Netflix Slam’ exhibition in Las Vegas on March 3.

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