London: Rafael Nadal believes a conversation with David Beckham has provided him with the perfect inspiration ahead of his Wimbledon final showdown with Tomas Berdych on Sunday.
Nadal had only just finished his ruthless three-set victory over Andy Murray in semi-final, on Friday when he was asked if he wanted to meet former England captain Beckham, who watched with his son Brooklyn as the world number one produced a masterclass on Centre Court.
While Nadal was drained following his efforts against Murray, the chance to spend a few minutes with Beckham was too good to turn down.
The Spaniard is a big fan of Real Madrid and grew to admire Beckham`s ferocious work-ethic during the England midfielder`s time at the La Liga club.
Beckham`s refusal to accept that any cause is lost on the pitch struck a chord with Nadal, who adopts the same approach whenever he steps onto a tennis court.
"I know him from Madrid few years ago and it is always special meet with great sportsmen like David," Nadal said.
“He`s a big star outside of the stadium. But for me, what I admire a lot about him is when he`s on the pitch; he fights like the best of them and even more than the rest."
Nadal will need a Beckham-style lung-busting effort to subdue the powerful Berdych, who has clinched a surprise final place with hugely impressive victories over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
After a gruelling clay-court season culminated in victory at the French Open, Nadal had only 48 hours to rest before travelling to London to begin his preparations for the grass-court season and now, a month later, the strain is starting to tell on his body.
He has been suffering with knee problems for much of the Championships and admits he can`t guarantee the injury won`t flare up again in the final.
"I didn`t have any problem for the last three matches but it can be there in one moment and I don`t have the control of this," he said.
"This pain sometimes appears there. I don`t know when it starts and when it stops."
It is hardly surprising that Nadal has been ready to play through the pain barrier at the All England Club this year.
Just 12 months ago he was unable to defend the title he won here in 2008 due to knee tendinitis, but now he stands on the brink of winning the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year for the second time.
It would be a remarkable achievement for a player written off when he failed to win a tournament for several months after his return from that knee injury.
Nadal might have been expecting to resume his rivalry with Federer in the final, but Berdych ensured that wouldn`t happen with a stunning quarter-final victory over the defending champion.
Berdych proved that was no fluke by dispatching world number three Djokovic in three sets in the semi-final to reach his first grand slam final.
For so long an underachiever on the men`s tour, Berdych has suddenly blossomed in the last month.
He reached the French Open semi-finals before his epic run at Wimbledon and Nadal is well aware of the threat posed by the 6ft 5in Czech.
"He did amazing tournament," Nadal said. "He is a very aggressive player with a very good serve.
"No opponent can be more difficult than Tomas to play in this final."
Berdych, 24, has the perfect game for grass. Now he has the confidence to back up his talent and is determined to seize his big chance against Nadal.
"It would be bad if I say I`m fear anybody," Berdych said. "I`m playing well, feeling great and I hope I have some energy still left there for the last one."
While Nadal is a blur of energy on court, Berdych is a far more undemonstrative character and that laidback attitude will ensure he doesn`t lose any sleep fretting over the task in front of him.
"The best thing I like before a match is to have a good sleep. I will enjoy that and get really relaxed," he said.
"My energy is getting lower and I think sleep is the best thing to get it back a little bit."