RAFAEL Nadal has just been into the press conference room after achieving his Wimbledon dream tonight in one of the greatest finals of all time.
The raging bull from Majorca ended Roger Federer’s bid to win a record Open-era sixth successive men’s singles title.
But he still had to ask us what the score was.
Before revealing that he couldn’t see a thing at the end of the longest men’s final in Wimbledon history.
As the light faded on Centre Court, Nadal, 22, converted his fourth match point to take the Championship 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7.
Rafa was applauded by the media as he walked into the press room.
He had been due to talk at 10.20pm – but being Nadal, it was 10.50pm before he arrived.
“Rafa’s minutes are elastic,” explained one official.
Well, I think we can forgive him.
I asked Rafa if it was the greatest match he had ever played in.
“For me the most emotional, yes,” he replied.
“I don’t know if it’s the best. Probably. Probably the best, yes.”
Asked to describe his emotions at having won, he said: “Impossible to describe, no?
“Just very happy. Is unbelievable for me have a title here in Wimbldeon.
“Is probably – well, is a dream.
“I always, when I was a kid, I dream for play here, but for win is amazing, no?”
Was he concerned that the match would not finish tonight because it was so dark?
“I feel it. In the last game, I didn’t see nothing. Was unbelievable.
“I thought we had to stop. Well, if I lost the last game we have to stop, that’s for sure.
“But at the same time when I was preparing to serve in the – how was the final score? 9-7? 10-8?”
Told the score, he continued: “So with 8-7, when I was ready for serve, I said – no, I can’t believe. I can’t see nothing, no?”
Earlier a desolate Federer sat in the same seat, still wearing his cardigan.
Asked if it was the toughest match of his career, he replied: “Probably my hardest loss, by far.
“It’s not much harder than this right now.”
He was also questioned about whether it was too dark to play at the end.
TV pictures give no real idea of just how dark it was on court.
“What can I tell you?
“It would have been brutal for fans, for media, for us, for everybody to come back tomorrow,” said Federer.
“But what are you gonna do?
“It’s rough on me now, obviously, to lose the biggest tournament in the world over maybe a bit of light, you know.
“It’s not a whole lot of fun, but it’s the way it is.
“I can only congratulate Rafa for a great effort.
“With the light, it was tough. But it’s not an excuse.
“Rafa served well and played well and deserved to win in the end.”
Emerging from the locker room, the final hand Nadal shook before he walked on court today was that of Manuel Santana, the last Spanish man to win the title in 1966.
Now Rafa’s name is also on the Wimbledon honours board after an epic final which won both men standing ovations.
The prince has taken King Roger’s Centre Court crown – but Federer vowed to be back next year to fight for its return.
It’s been yet another magical 13 days in SW19.
The sun shone – mostly – the crowds flocked in and the global TV attention was enormous.
This is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, held in a usually sleepy suburb of south west London.
The hours have been punishingly long, from early morning to late night, with little sleep in between.
As ever, I wouldn’t swap a single minute.
To walk straight in through the gates at breakfast time while thousands are queueing outside remains a real privilege.
Yes, there’s a huge amount of work to do once you’re here.
And those same fans are long gone by the time you walk out in the dark.
But the All England Club during the The Championships is a very special place indeed.
No wonder people return decade after decade from all four corners of the world.
Also returning within days are the builders and their giant cranes.
Next year there will be a retractable roof on Centre Court.
So no more long rain delays.
And the new mini-stadium Court Two will be finished and open for play.
From 2008 I’ll remember a triumphant Nadal in tears, a desolate Federer and Laura’s smile.
Not forgetting Andy’s twilight triumph, Roddick’s anguish, Chris’s duct tape, Jelena’s strop, Nathalie’s grace and Zheng’s humility.
Or Roger’s cardy, Serena’s mac Maria’s tuxedo and Jamie’s hair.
Along with dozens of other wonderful moments in a fantastic fortnight.
Now the last point has been won and the light has faded.
It’s time, yet again, to pack up my laptop, clear my locker, gather my belongings together and head for home.
The 2009 Championships begin on Monday June 22.
I’m already looking forward to it.
Shall we make it a date?
Wylie’s Wimbledon 2008
Wylie’s Wimbledon 2007
Wylie’s Wimbledon 2006