The rivalry that has engulfed men's tennis looks set to intensify as four-time world No 1 Roger Federer noted how much his young pretender, Rafael Nadal, has improved in the last 12 months.
The Swiss legend beat his rival in four sets yesterday to take his fourth consecutive Wimbledon crown but having lost to Nadal four times already in 2006 and being genuinely stretched in yesterday's final, he lauded the Spaniard for the progress he has made.
Before this tournament Nadal had a reputation as a clay court specialist and despite his No 2 seeding for these championships was not expected to do particularly well.
But the 20-year-old exceeded all predictions and became the first man in 11 grass court matches to take a set off the champion.
Federer was impressed and, having lost to him at Roland Garros last month, said he recognised how vital it was that he halted Nadal juggernaut. "It is important for me to win finals against him and beat him for a change," he said.
"At Wimbledon I knew it was going to be the place for me to do it the easiest way. It turned out to be tough and that shows how he's improved over the entire year.
"I was very aware of how important this match was for me. If I lose it's obviously a hard blow. He wins the French and Wimbledon back-to-back - I was twice in the final that really hurt."
Although doesn't leave with the trophy Nadal at least goes with the confidence that one day it can be his: "I saw in the match when I was playing my best tennis, when I was playing well, the match is close, there's not much difference.
"It is important for my belief that I can win here. It is important for me to believe I can beat Roger too. He won't beat me so easily after that, no?" ..SUPL: