The 2008 Wimbledon Final remains the greatest sporting event of the 21st century and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. (Unless it’s Anthony Joshua arguing for last year’s Wladimir Klitschko blockbuster, in which case my editor will fight him.)

The brilliant documentary Strokes of Genius: Federer vs Nadal offered a timely reminder not only of the astonishing skill and drama of that unforgettable contest but also its narrative purity: Nadal wins the first two sets 6-4, then a rainbreak; Federer wins the next two 7-6, then another rainbreak; and as daylight fades and shadows lengthen the two men trade blows deep into the fifth set until Nadal finally wrenches his rival’s title and Number 1 ranking to realign tennis forever.

The only match of comparable significance occurred last year: different Slam, same players (obviously) as Federer and Nadal faced off in the 2017 Australian Open final. Same five sets, different winner, the Swiss claiming his 18th major after four and a half years in the tennis wilderness.

What happened next? Nadal won the French without dropping a set, Federer did likewise at Wimbledon, Nadal won the US Open (and dropped three sets), then Federer retained the Australian (and dropped two), Nadal retained the French (and dropped one), and here we are back at Wimbledon, ten years on from ‘08, with the duo tearing through the draw towards each other and what appears an irresistible reunion with destiny.

There is a very good chance that barely anyone will watch what could be the biggest match in tennis history

To give some idea how much of a BIG DEAL a Federer vs Nadal Wimbledon 2018 Final would be, consider the following:

  • 2008 was the third straight Wimbledon final between the pair. (Federer won the two previous.) They haven’t met on grass since.
  • Nor have they met in a Slam since Federer’s victory at Melbourne.
  • They have played in three Masters Events: Federer won all three without dropping a set. He’s currently on an unprecedented five-match winning streak against his great rival, who leads their head-to-head 23–15 (9-3 in Grand Slams).
  • Federer leads Nadal 20-17 on Grand Slam titles. 21-17 and Rafa never catches him. 20-18 and Rafa probably does.
  • The significance of Nadal beating Federer on his favourite surface would be hard to overstate.
  • The significance of Federer avenging 2008 while retaining his title would be hard to overstate.
  • Federer is 36, Nadal an injury ravaged 32. This really could be their last major contest. (Caveat: we said that before Melbourne. Caveat to the caveat: despite sharing the past six Slams, they’ve somehow avoided each other in the past five.)

And yet there is a very good chance that barely anyone – this writer included – will watch what could be reasonably described as the biggest match in tennis history. Why? Because, as you may have heard, the Wimbledon Men’s Final will overlap with the World Cup Final which, as you may of heard, England could quite conceivably be playing in.

To clarify: Wimbledon is scheduled to start at 2pm. The World Cup Final kicks off at 4pm. Just as Fedal XXXVIII is hotting up, the nation will switch over to watch football embark oo the final leg of its triumphant journey home – assuming the nation even switched on to begin with.

Yet the All England Club refuses to even consider moving the time of the final. Even pay the idea lip service! And thus due to a pomposity and self-regard that makes Augusta National golf club look like the UFC, an historic match is in danger of being relegated to not even an afterthought but an event that might as well never have happened at all.

Can’t we all just pretend it rained on Sunday and the tennis is pushed back to Monday like the old days

Look, I get it. I get that it’s not as easy as just bringing the final forward a couple of hours for a midday start. People have booked train tickets; arranged shifts; sorted babysitters; parted with vast sums of money. I accept that a not-insubstantial ecosystem exists around the premise that the Wimbledon Men’s Final will start at 2pm, no later and certainly no earlier.

But still – can’t we just bring the final forward a couple of hours for a midday start? I can’t believe the players would really care, and they’re the important ones! Surely some kind of deal could be struck with the train companies? Surely the many thousands who work in and around Wimbledon would be delighted at being able to watch the tennis and Harry Kane score our fifth?

Or can’t we all just pretend it rained on Sunday (what heat wave?) and the tennis is pushed back to Monday like the old days (what roof?)... Or some have-a-go hero sneaks onto Centre Court with a hosepipe and a box of frogs.

Or maybe, just maybe, the All England Club could remove its head from its immaculately attired posterior and ENGAGE WITH THIS FIASCO! Cos if I don’t care about watching Wimbledon – and I LOVE Federer – then I really doubt the casual fan will be too fussed.

ARRRGGGGGHHHH – basically sums up my views.

Right, see you all on Sunday to watch a couple of hours of Djokovic vs Raonic and then France beat Croatia 1-0.

Sport, eh?