Nadal back on top at Wimbledon

2010-07-05 09:08

Queen Elizabeth II had the right idea coming to Wimbledon during

the first week.

That’s when this year’s tournament produced most of its drama,

while the final weekend stuck with a predictable script, thanks to Rafael Nadal

and Serena Williams.

Nadal cemented his status as the world’s No. 1 player yesterday,

winning his second Wimbledon trophy, eighth Grand Slam championship and second

major title in four weeks. He dismantled first-time Grand Slam finalist Tomas

Berdych 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Nadal had the more arduous journey, being pushed to five sets in

rounds two and three while battling soreness in his right knee that subsided for

his later matches.

He made the final look routine, deftly defusing Berdych’s power and

dominating pivotal points.

Nadal celebrated with perhaps the first Centre Court somersault in

the history of a tournament that dates to 1877.

Difficult year

“One of the toughest moments in my career, no?” he said during the

trophy ceremony. “Amazing for me after a difficult year last year that I can be

here.”

While the final weekend went as expected, with a sweep by tennis’

No. 1 players, the first week generated plenty of surprises to go with the

queen’s first Wimbledon visit since 1977.

Besides Nadal’s close calls, there was a narrow escape for

top-seeded Roger Federer, who was three points from defeat in the opening Centre

Court match, and there was the longest match in tennis history. John Isner

needed three days to beat Nicolas Mahut, winning the fifth set 70-68, creating

such a sustained buzz Nadal was still talking about the match after his

final.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “They show amazing good spirit for the

crowd, for the young people, because the attitude was very positive and fighting

a lot every point, like for 10 hours or 11 hours. Just amazing.”

Nadal’s title run on the heels of his fifth French Open

championship was impressive, too.

Nadal’s zeal was evident before the final began. He walked onto the

Centre Court lawn holding a racket, eager to start swinging.

The No.12-seeded Berdych upset Federer in the quarterfinals but

couldn’t duplicate that performance, and a handful of points were his downfall.

The gap between Nadal and the rest of the men’s tour widens. This

week Novak Djokovic supplants Federer at No.2 in the rankings, but the Serb

hasn’t reached a Grand Slam final since winning his only major title at the 2008

Australian Open. Federer, now No.3, has gone five months without a tournament

title since winning this year’s Australian Open.

Nadal, meanwhile, is 31-1 with five titles since mid-April.

As the winner of eight major championships, he’s tied with such

greats as Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, but Nadal still seeks a

breakthrough at the US Open. He has won other hard court tournaments, including

the Australian Open, but his grinding style of play takes a toll on his body,

especially his troublesome knees.

He lost in the semifinals the past two years and has yet to reach a

final. Barely two hours after his latest London win, he wasn’t quite ready to

start thinking about New York.

“For sure the US Open is going to be one of my goals for the rest

of my career,” he said. “But right now it’s to enjoy the beach, fishing, golf,

friends, party and Mallorca.”

 

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