Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Dossier: Nadal starts scaring them to defeat

Coaching Report: Nicolas Kiefer (Ger) v Rafael Nadal (Spain) Centre Court

Rafael Nadal gets the voodoo in the other guy's brain before the show begins. Exhibit A this year: he'd messed with Roger Federer's head before they even reached the court for the French Open final. When play started there was only ever going to be one winner.

I'm not saying that reputation in itself can win you a bean. You need athleticism and talent as base credentials. But the right attitude – the swagger that says you have got the cojones to do any job – allied with a physique to do it, plus force and finesse to ram home that message, is a powerful combination.

Nadal has the package. Yeah, he gets angry. Sure, he mumbles. (Don't the best of us?). But when he lays his ability out there for everyone to see, it's beyond dispute. For my money, he's probably the best player in the world right now. My admiration for him grows by the day.

That doesn't necessarily translate to winning a tournament, especially this one. But nobody, on any surface, walks onto a big-stage court to face Nadal without thinking that in all likelihood they're going to take a beating. On Saturday it was the turn of Nicolas Kiefer to step up to be cut down.

The German is no mug on grass, and he used a lot of guile and heart in a match that finished with a 7-6, 6-2, 6-3 scoreline in Nadal's favour that was not as easy a ride as it suggests. But the Spaniard is strong, relentless and, at times, quite awesomely clever and technically spot-on. I could list any number of ferocious winners to illustrate this but if there was one point that left the crowd gasping and Kiefer stranded, it was the penultimate one of the game.

Nadal won it with a backhand slice that had enough spin to haul the cattle in. It dropped and then ran away from Kiefer, as did the German's last hope. Nadal still looked as fresh as the dew, even after charging around all evening like one of those remote-control toy trucks that can climb mountains. Indestructible. No obstacle too tough.

This being tennis, none of that guarantees him a stroll. You only need to look at what we've already seen in week one. Holy mackerel! Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic were only three of the shocks, albeit the biggest ones, in a first six days where anything looked possible. And you know what? I loved it. It's the very essence of sport that we can't ever say with certainty what will happen. If we could, we might as well all go home.

Sharapova went home and we still can't say definitively why, only how. That was because of poor serving and limited movement. But what struck me more, on looking at the match again, was a slight diminishing of the fire that usually drives her when cornered. She's a fighter. Briefly as she rallied against Alla Kudryavtseva before falling that spark was there. But it went out. Time will tell if it was indicative of a bigger problem.

Staying in the women's singles, Venus and Serena Williams remain on course to meet in the final, as we suggested a week ago when tipping them as Sharapova's only real threats. A group of other girls have jumped to prominence, including China's Zheng Jie. But then China's emergence across a number of sports should not be surprising when they spend billions on academies.

The final thing that's really impressed me is the improving touch game of Andy Murray. Soft hands, boy! And a big up to Judy Murray once again for producing two sons who are fighting on, into week two.

Lopez can keep Spain in focus

Spain has been grabbing headlines in football by reaching that final last night and I think it might be a good day for them on the courts of SW19, with Feliciano Lopez possibly the biggest "upset winner" in my view in a match against Marcos Baghdatis that the latter is favourite to win. The difference between two huge talents could be Lopez's serve. If it's at full capacity, I think he can edge it. Andy Murray, rapidly becoming one of the best returners in the game, is capable of beating Richard Gasquet, who is a shot-maker who also covers the court well. The Brit gets my vote because of doubts over Gasquet's current inconsistencies. I think Rafael Nadal will win against Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian is a fierce competitor who can cause a threat but Nadal can match him or best him in all departments.

For more picks and a full record of what happens to my predictions, visit:

www.nickstennispicks.com

Win a week at Bollettieri Tennis Acamedy

You still have six chances to enter my competition to win a week's stay at my Florida academy. Travel to America and train in the footsteps of Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova and other top players. Just email to tell me who is going to win today's big match (below left). I'm looking for a scoreline, and a short forecast of how your pick will win. Each day, I'll select a daily winner, with the overall winner drawn from all those at the end of the tournament.

Thanks for your many entries so far, and I truly appreciate all your comments on the column! Saturday's winner for Haas-Murray was Gerold Akos, who said Murray 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, making him just one game out in set four.

The competition is open to all ages: your trip will be tailored to your requirements, junior or adult. I'll cover tuition, accommodation and meals. You buy the air ticket. Read all about the trip of last year's winner, Rachel O'Reilly, on this newspaper's website. To enter today, email me at n.bollettieri@independent.co.uk

Nick's tips to improve your game

*No 6: Abbreviate you serve motion (and your toss).

The key to good serving is how the ball and your racket work together as a team, and it seems obvious to me that a sizeable percentage of players benefit from an abbreviation of the serve motion. We teach that the arm and racket need to be fully extended at contact point, and therefore your ball toss needs to be higher than that point, but crucially not that much higher. Certainly, I don't advocate the Steffi Graf-approach (below), brilliant though she was, of tossing the ball skywards to the extent that she had enough time to lay a picnic, eat it and take a nap before the ball fell again. Too-high tosses allow wind, sun, timing errors and inconsistency room to do you damage, and there is no inherent advantage to hitting a ball that's fallen further before you strike.

Today's Big Match: Roger Federer v Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt deserves praise for getting his game back on track after big changes in his life – coach swaps, marriage, a baby – that led to some writing him off. Never do that. He's as competitive as the Tiger, and while even Hewitt couldn't win Wimbledon with a broken leg as Tiger won a major, he'd get damn near on his day. He'll also love the dirtball baseline that the courts are becoming in week two. His movement is good but his injured hip is an obvious problem. Federer will jerk him around, with "east-west" tennis probably the Swiss' route to victory. Hewitt will also be vulnerable to short, jabbing slices, which will either bring him in, or will take him out wide on to his backhand side, which is a difficult place for Hewitt. Federer can do it all, of course, he has no weaknesses at all when he's on his game. Watch out today for his cross-court angled forehands which I think will cause Hewitt trouble. The Aussie scrapper will not give this up lightly, though.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game