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July 2, 2010

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Wimbledon 2010, London, England, UK
July 2, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt


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Jane Voigt

Nadal and Berdych In Men's Final
July 2, 2010 -- The questions thrown at Tomas Berdych about his win over #1 seed Roger Federer will stop now. He legitimized that victory by defeating the #3 seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets today in the men's semifinals. For Andy Murray the questions will multiply. Rafael Nadal took the Scot to a Highland woodshed this afternoon on Centre Court, ending Great Britain's hope of an Andy slam title on home turf.
But the best men won today, as tour players say in their press conferences.
Tomas Berdych outplayed a lackluster Novak Djokovic; and, Rafael Nadal slammed every opening shut -- ka-boom -- that Andy Murray had opened for his benefit.
"I've said it for a few years," Murray began. "I love watching him play. He's my favorite player to watch. That's why I enjoy playing him so much. So I hope he wins."
Murray played his best tennis in the second set, out hitting and out serving Nadal. Nevertheless, the set went to a tiebreaker. One point away from leveling the match -- at 6/5 -- Murray dropped both serves. Nadal ran off the next two points, right on cue.
Murray broke Nadal immediately at the start of the third, and held onto the lead until the eighth game when Murray drubbed a sitter of a volley on an add point. There went his advantage. Nadal ran off the next four games to win the match.
"When I had the chance, I did [it]," Nadal said. "So that was the most important thing of the match."
Tomas Berdych has never played a final at a major tournament. It will be Nadal's fourth consecutive final in the years that he has played at The All England Club, although he missed last year having pulled out with knee tendonitis.
Nadal and Berdych are one year apart in age. Nadal's the younger at 24. Berdych towers over the Spaniard at six-foot-five, but weighs only twelve pounds more according to the ATP Tour website. Nadal is six-foot-one. Berdych plays right-handed. Nadal buggy whips his racquet with his left hand and loads up his backhand with plenty of guidance from his right hand -- his natural side.
Their tennis styles are markedly different. Berdych can consistently serve in the mid 120s and bomb a few in the mid 130s. Nadal's serve is reliably consistent and loaded with all sorts of twists and turns, but he doesn't have the raw power as does Berdych. Nadal, though, can handle any opponent's serve.
Off the ground, Berdych could take advantage of his height and smack high-bouncing and ultra-spinning Nadal balls from his favorite forehand side and his backhand side, too. If he times these shots well and hits them flat he could penetrate the court nicely. Nadal will have to keep his shots deep and not set up the big Czech.
Berdych has proven that his aggressive strategy works. He didn't want to rally, which especially threw off Federer. Berdych should choose not to rally with Nadal, either. They don't call the Spaniard 'Jet Boy' for nothing.
Nadal is an anomaly. He has every shot in the book, some of the fastest wheels on the ATP Tour, and a competitive nature that ranks about as high as anyone could measure. He can be down two sets to love and a break, win one point, and believe the match had turned in his favor, and then do something about it.
A big guy like Berdych can't compete with Nadal on foot-speed. However, Berdych's anticipation and depth of his shots could keep Nadal pinned to the baseline with enough consistency to make inroads on his serve.
Head-to-head it's 7-3 in Nadal's favor. Berdych, though, has not won a match against the top player in the world since the 2006 ATP Masters Series Madrid. Nadal has conquered Berdych on clay, grass and hard courts. But, they have never met in a major.
Both men's confidence -- mentally and physically -- is polished. Berdych's mental toughness was questionable for years. He just didn't believe he could do it, and he didn't.
Nadal will be the favorite on Sunday when the strawberries and cream flow in SW19, London. If Berdych can shake the nerves, before he gets on court as he did today, there is hope. If Nadal screams to a fast start and gets on a roll, then the day could be shortened.
However, looking back on the masterful 2008 final between Federer and Nadal, the Swiss looked destined to bid adieu after the second set. That match went on until the light dimmed and Federer sent a forehand into the net cord.

On the Ladies Side
Vera Zvonareva and doubles partner Elena Vesnina are in the women's doubles final at Wimbledon, after defeating Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko today. Zvonareva is scheduled to play the doubles championship tomorrow, on Centre Court, following the men's doubles final. She was very excited about their win today, and has no doubts about her physical health as she goes for a double-header victory.

Earlier Columns from this Event:
July 1, 2010 Wimbledon: Serena Williams and Vera Zvonareva Set for Finals
June 30, 2010 Wimbledon: Federer Out
June 29, 2010 Wimbledon: The Passage
June 28, 2010 Wimbledon: Seeds Fall, New Growth Springs Forth
June 27, 2010 Wimbledon: Odd Men In, Not Out
June 26, 2010 Wimbledon: Saluting The Women Into Second Week
June 25, 2010 Wimbledon: A Deeper Look
June 24, 2010 Wimbledon: Over But Never Forgotten
June 23, 2010 Wimbledon: Stay Tuned... There's More To Come
June 22, 2010 Wimbledon: At The Fringes
June 21, 2010 Wimbledon: What's Luck Got To Do With It?

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