Nadal: Power and the glory

Spaniard surges to victory at Wimbledon to underline his standing as the best in the world
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The Independent Online

If there were any remaining doubts as to who is the world's best player they were dispelled in emphatic fashion here yesterday. Rafael Nadal, having already reclaimed the world No 1 ranking from Roger Federer, succeeded the Swiss as Wimbledon champion with a crushing 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych.

In winning his second Wimbledon crown and the eighth Grand Slam title of his career, Nadal never looked in danger against an opponent playing in his first major final. Nadal held serve throughout, while the hard-hitting Berdych dropped serve four times. Most crucially of all, the Czech was broken in the last game of all three sets.

It completed a remarkable comeback by Nadal, who missed Wimbledon last year because of a knee injury and had not won a title for 11 months until the start of the clay-court season three months ago. Since then, the 24-year-old Spaniard has swept all the major honours before him, including the French Open and Wimbledon.

"For sure it hasn't been an easy year for me, but to be back at my favourite tournament in the world, play well again and finish with the trophy is amazing," Nadal said. "This is probably the best crowd in the world. They have a lot of respect for every player. The crowd have always been amazing with me, especially two days ago when I played against Andy Murray, a British player. For sure the crowd supported him, but at the same time they were supporting me a lot. That's unbelievable."

Two years ago, Nadal became the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Remarkably, this is the third year in succession in which the feat has been performed, Federer having emulated Nadal's achievement last year. Borg, who was watching from the royal box yesterday, did the double three years in a row.

Video: Rafa wins Wimbledon

Nadal's eighth Grand Slam title puts him level with Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Fred Perry and Ken Rosewall and leaves just six players ahead of him in the all-time list of champions: Federer (16 titles), Pete Sampras (14), Roy Emerson (12), Rod Laver (11), Borg (11) and Bill Tilden (10). Federer won his eighth Grand Slam title (Wimbledon 2006) when he was 24 years and 11 months old, which was 10 months older than Nadal. Although he initially made his name as the king of clay, Nadal has become a formidable grass-court champion. Since 2005, he has lost only two matches at Wimbledon, the 2006 and 2007 finals against Federer.

When he returns today to Majorca, Nadal will have further treatment on his troublesome knees. Later in the summer, he will attempt to win the US Open, the only Grand Slam title that has so far eluded him.

"Playing on grass was always my dream, and playing here was a big goal for me all my life," he added. "I move well on this court, and that's a very important part of the game. Sure, my serve has also improved a little bit. It's also important to play more aggressively than on the other surfaces.

"Getting back to my best was very difficult and this was an emotional moment for me. I want to enjoy that. For sure, I'll keep working to try to be ready to win the US Open, which will be one of my goals for the rest of my career. But right now I'll enjoy the beach, fishing, golf, friends, party, and Majorca."