Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal clashed in three straight Wimbledon finals
Federer had beaten Nadal in two consecutive finals in the previous years and had not dropped a set on his way to the final.
Nadal meanwhile, already a four-time French Open champion, was looking to add his first Grand Slam title away from his beloved clay.
The Spaniard had briefly been in trouble against Ernests Gulbis in the second round, losing the first set, but otherwise he cruised into a third straight final.
In the days before the roof that now adorns Centre Court, the start was delayed by an hour due to rain and Nadal struggled to contain his anxiety, according to Wimbledon locker-room attendant Doug Dickson.
“Roger was his usual calm, collected self,” Dickson told the BBC.
“If he was nervous, he did not show it.
“Rafa was also his usual self, a tiny bit on edge, which was due, I think, to the weather.”
The players were forced off again during the third set with Nadal two sets to the good but Federer leading 5-4.
The Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal final at Wimbledon was twice delayed by rain
“During the first rain break, Roger went into the physio room and lay down on one of the beds,” Dickson added.
“Rafa re-taped his fingers and had a mobile CD player plugged in.”
After an hour and 20 minutes of waiting, play resumed and Federer would later admit that the rain delay “woke him up” and he took the third and then the fourth in a tie-break to force a deciding set.
Rafael Nadal’s first Wimbledon title was a dramatic one in the gloom
Eventually, with light fading fast and nearly five hours of tennis having been played, Nadal triumphed 9-7 in the fifth to take a first ever Wimbledon title.
The match is widely regarded as the greatest match of all time.
Dickson said: “Most winners have beer and champagne.
“Rafa, his uncle Toni and physio Rafael Maymo had ice cream – that’s how they celebrated.”