‘Rafa’ claims the Wimbledon throne
London: A spellbinding display of brutal hitting and raw speed from Rafa Nadal secured the Spaniard his second Wimbledon title Sunday with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over 12th seed Tomas Berdych.
Nadal, who has not lost here since the 2007 final after victory in 2008 and injury prevented his defence last year, completely nullified the 1.95m Czech’s biggest weapons to storm to an eighth career grand slam and open up a cavernous lead at the top of the world rankings.
The win, which completed a second French Open-Wimbledon double in three years for Nadal, came after two hours and 13 minutes when his 20th forehand winner left Berdych stranded at the net on his first championship point.
He celebrated by slumping on to his back on the baseline, holding his face in his hands before embracing Berdych at the net and performing an impromptu roly poly and double fist pump towards his entourage.
“More than a dream for me, always a dream to play in this final,” Nadal said in an on-court interview.
“To have this trophy in my hands, amazing. You’re (Berdych) doing an amazing season, sorry for today but I wish you luck for the rest of the season.”
From the moment Nadal bounced, weaved and stretched his way down the corridors of the All England Club to Centre Court like a fired-up prize fighter, there was a sense nothing could derail the 24-year-old.
Both held their opening service games to love on a bright and breezy day, and neither was under early pressure, and even a male fan bellowing “I love you Rafa” could not throw the Spaniard’s focus.
Game seven turned the tone of the match though, as Nadal stepped up a gear and Berdych’s first serve deserted him.
Nadal’s forehand was starting to eat up the Berdych serve, and the Mallorcan brought the crowd to life with a searing forehand pass down the line to bring up three break points.
A cutting backhand return had the Czech stretching and Nadal clenched his fist with stern-faced determination when Berdych’s forehand skewed out.
The pre-match build-up had focussed on the Berdych forehand, which had dismantled six-times champion Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the last two rounds, but Nadal reminded everyone that his is the most potent weapon in the game.
He held to love for 5-3 and took the second of two break points in game nine to take the opening set 6-3 in 34 minutes, another bullet forehand return forcing the Czech to net.
Berdych’s first serve percentage was hovering around 50, the murderous hitting that marked his progress through the draw was countered by Nadal’s chilling pace and the Spaniard quickly snuffed out any half-chances carved out by the 12th seed.
Nadal saved three break points in a 12-minute opening game of the second set, as the swirling wind started to create timing issues for both players.
Hard as he tried, Berdych could not put the Nadal serve under pressure, forehands that had been winners against Federer and Djokovic were gobbled up by the Spaniard, and there was a growing sense of frustration in the 24-year-old’s game.
It came bubbling horribly to the surface in game 12 of the second set when out of the blue a slew of unforced errors gave Nadal three break points, and another errant forehand from the Berdych racket sealed the set and effectively his fate.
Berdych, watched from the Royal Box by Jan Kodes, the only Czech man to win the title here in 1973, mixed things up with a few net forays which showed promising signs of unsettling Nadal but the Mallorcan just kept slamming the door.
Nadal saved a break point in the opening game of the third, and the pair held until Berdych, in his first slam final, served to stay in the match at 4-5.
Sensing he was only four points away from the title, Nadal went for the jugular with a trademark side-spin forehand pass to go 0-30.
Berdych battled back to deuce but the dye was cast and on his first championship point another crosscourt forehand winner settled the contest.
“It was a great two weeks for me but he was really strong today, he’s showed in the last two months he’s the champion and he deserved to win today,” Berdych said.