THE TRIUMPH OF RAFAEL
Straight-sets victory over Berdych full of energy, strong strokes
Nadal wins his second title at Wimbledon in straight sets over Tomas Berdych
Spain’s Rafael Nadal makes a backhand return to Tomas Berdych as he wins at Wimbledon on Sunday.
WIMBLEDON, England — Rafael Nadal looked like a guy who absolutely couldn’t wait to get out there, clutching his racket and hopping in place near the entrance to Centre Court before the Wimbledon final.
He jiggled his left leg, unable to sit still on the sideline. He even bopped around during the prematch coin toss. When it was finally time to start warming up, he zigzagged to the baseline in a full sprint.
And when it ended, Nadal marked his victory with a celebratory somersault. That endless energy, and so many superb strokes, allowed the No. 2-seeded Nadal to outclass No. 12 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 Sun-
Continued from C1 day for his second Wimbledon trophy and eighth Grand Slam title overall.
A year ago, sidelined by painful knees, 2008 Wimbledon champion Nadal was planted on his couch at home in Spain and watched the final on television, only the fifth man in the history of a tournament that dates to 1877 who couldn’t defend his championship because of injury.
“Now last year is past,” Nadal said. “I know what happened one year ago, and how difficult it was for me, how much I had to work to be back at my best level.”
He paused, tapping his chest Rafael Nadal lies on the ground after defeating Tomas Berdych in the men’s singles final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon for his eighth major title so far. with his left hand, and added: “That’s something special for me.”
In 2009, his 31-match French Open winning streak ended, he missed Wimbledon, went more than eight months without a title anywhere, lost the No. 1 ranking, and, hardest of all, dealt with his parents’ separation.
This year, he is 47-5 with five titles, both tour highs. He won 24 matches in a row in one stretch, regained his Roland Garros title and the No. 1 ranking last month, and managed the tricky transition from clay to grass by winning the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year for the second time.
There is no doubt he’s the best player in tennis today, surpassing Roger Federer.
“Rafa’s showing in the last few months,” Berdych said, “that he’s really the champion.”
Nadal won his 14th match in a row at Wimbledon, essentially, because he saved all four break points he faced and broke the big-serving Berdych four times.
“The biggest difference between us,” Berdych explained, “was that when he got a chance, he just took it.”
Give Nadal the tiniest opening, and the left-hander barges through. It’s no accident he has a silhouette of a bull’s horns stamped on the back of his left sneaker’s heel (the right one reads, “Rafa”).
Still, Nadal acknowledged being “a little bit more nervous than usual” before fac- ing Berdych. Asked why, Nadal said simply: “If you are not nervous in the final of Wimbledon, you are not human.”
This match was hardly a classic. More like a coronation — or, at the very least, confirmation that Nadal is elbowing his way into any conversation about the best players in tennis history.
His eight titles at major tournaments push him past John McEnroe and tie with quite a heady group that includes Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.
“I’m very proud to be alongside those great players,” Nadal said. “My career is much better than I could have imagined when I began playing.”