Champion takes a break before setting sights on world No 1 spot

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The Independent Online

The morning after the night before began for Rafael Nadal at a hotel in London's West End and ended a few hours later at the Weissenhof tennis centre in Stuttgart. While few were expecting the new Wimbledon champion to defend his title at this week's Mercedes Cup clay-court tournament, it was a measure of the 22-year-old Spaniard's respect that he flew to Germany to inform the organisers personally of his decision to withdraw because of a sore knee.

"This was the least I can do," Nadal said. "I'm disappointed that I can't play, but my doctor said I need a few days off. I will have a check-up and treatment and won't return to the court until I am 100 per cent fit."

The gesture was appreciated by officials. "He is here today because he is responsible and has character," Edwin Weindorfer, the tournament director, said. "Every player needs a rest, especially someone like Nadal who is always in the final."

Having completed his extraordinary five-set victory over Roger Federer at 9.15 pm on Sunday, Nadal did not arrive at the Intercontinental Hotel for the Champions' Dinner until shortly before 1 am. By that time the likes of Venus Williams, the women's champion, and Laura Robson, the 14-year-old who had become the first Briton for 24 years to win a Wimbledon junior title, were already digesting their freshwater crayfish cocktail and roasted rump of lamb, but Nadal was determined not to miss the traditional end-of-championships celebration.

Asked what his Wimbledon victory meant to him, the world No 2 said: "Right now I only think about the present. Probably when I finish my career I am going to think about these things."

Nadal, who has played 47 matches since mid-March, will now recuperate before beginning his north American hard-court campaign at the Masters Series tournament in Toronto in a fortnight's time. The Cincinnati Masters follows immediately, after which there is a one-week gap before the Olympic tennis tournament in Beijing and another one-week break before the US Open. The period between now and the clay-court season next spring is usually the least productive part of Nadal's year, but this time he has the incentive of overhauling Federer as world No 1. The Spaniard is only 545 points behind and could overtake the Swiss before the US Open. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how much winning the French Open and Wimbledon titles will have taken out of him. In the past Nadal has had knee problems which have not been helped by playing on hard courts, which are much less forgiving than clay or grass.

Nadal had knee trouble both before and during Wimbledon. The latest injury is muscle pain above the right knee. "I had problems in Wimbledon this year," the Spaniard said. "The calendar is hard on us players. I have played four, five months without a break. I have to recover."

Yesterday's updated world ranking list brought good news for Andy Murray. After reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals the 21-year-old Scot is back up to No 9, a rise of two places and just one short of his highest ever position, which he achieved 13 months ago. He is also No 8 in "The Race", the points list based on performances in the calendar year. The top eight qualify for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The most significant rankings loser of Wimbledon was the man Murray beat in the fourth round, Richard Gasquet, who has fallen five places to No 15. Rainer Schüttler, the surprise semi-finalist, is up 55 places to No 39, rejoining the top 40 for the first time for more than three years.

Shots that rang out across the world: How the international press saw it

El Pais

In his impressive career at Wimbledon, Federer has never lost the first two sets. He has never been dominated from the start. He has never come across as a mercurial player, who combines silky tennis with a personality of stone. Rafa Nadal is his name. Yesterday he was champion of Wimbledon. Tomorrow he is morally the World No 1.


"Rocky" Nadal beat Federer in the match of the century. It doesn't matter what the ATP say, Rafa you are the No 1.

Long live King Nadal, A memorable victory in the best final in the history of Wimbledon.

The New York Times

We reached the Hereford Arms, saw the large crowds, heard the whooping and realised that these were not highlights. This match had become an epic. No one for a moment doubted Nadal's mettle. He had waged tremendous battles, but had never beaten the great Roger Federer here. Until now. On this rainy, gusty Sunday afternoon, then evening, a young man had grown, in stature and legend. Rafael Nadal, the prince, had become Wimbledon's king.

La Gazzetta dello Sport

Under towering black clouds, the ferocious Rafa Nadal was demolishing Roger Federer, the universal king of tennis... but the rain intervened, the king reacted, and thus was born a sublime challenge. At last light, the Temple of Wimbledon was violated. A grandiose final.

The Australian

To compare it to anything else is to sully this final and wrongly elevate the others that have preceded it. Chess at 200km/h between the two very best players in the world. The match was played as men of mutual respect would in a fight to the death. The result was perfection in tennis as best we can understand it in 2008.

Los Angeles Times

We are all victorious after watching the pair's battle. Almost always, tennis is a niche sport, something watched by the general public if the garbage has been taken out and the ironing is done. Then, every so often, there comes a perfect storm. It happened in the cathedral of the sport, Centre Court at Wimbledon on Sunday, when typhoon Roger Federer met cyclone Rafael Nadal. Even for those who don't know a backhand from a backbite, what transpired was mesmerising.

The Sydney Morning Herald

This was athletic competition on the highest level. Two of the greatest tennis players ever competed against each other for nearly five hours.