Spaniard Rafael Nadal is eyeing his second Wimbledon title and eighth Grand Slam title overall. He will meet Czech Tomas Berdych in the final.
REUTERS - The last time Rafael Nadal appeared in a Wimbledon final, he spent the night before tossing and turning in bed in nervous anticipation of the clash against the game's greatest player Roger Federer.
Two years after beating the Swiss in the match considered the sport's most memorable and with Federer absent from the showpiece final for the first time since 2002, the Spaniard is no less wary about the man standing between him and an eighth grand slam title, Czech Tomas Berdych.
While the rest of the tennis world is still trying to come to terms with the fact the Swiss maestro will not emerge from the players' entrance on Centre Court on Sunday, Nadal does not find Federer's absence and Berdych's emergence that strange.
"It shows just how tough the tour is," the 2008 champion told Reuters in an interview on the eve of the final.
"What Roger did was amazing and unbelievable. It's impossible to be there all the time. What he did, six titles and one final in seven years, is impossible to repeat."
Since Nadal lost his first two Wimbledon finals to Federer, it was not surprising that he was looking forward to trading blows with a new Czech face across the net.
"Two years ago when I played against Roger, the night before I didn't sleep a lot," he said as he slouched back on a chair after emptying his pockets of two mobile phones and a bulging black wallet.
"(Out of all my nine grand slam finals) I was the most nervous going into the 2008 final here.
"But right now I'm not thinking about the victory. I'm thinking about having a good night, having a good warm-up tomorrow morning and then go on court and try my best every point.
"Tomas is a great player, very good player from the baseline, very good shots, very good serve, so that why he is the best player from his (side of the) draw.
"For that reason he's in the final and it's going to be a very difficult match."
To prepare for that match he took part in a short, but intense, training session on Saturday on a roasting outside court at the All England Club before sauntering on to the players' terrace looking refreshed in a green and white striped polo shirt loosely hanging over khaki pirate pants.
As he traded high-fives with another popular former champion, Goran Ivanisevic, he barely resembled a man who could in just over 24 hours become the first Spanish man to own two Challenge Cups.
"I would love to have another title here but even playing four finals here is more than I ever thought (was possible) and I want to enjoy tomorrow," said Nadal, who enjoys a 7-3 head-to-head record against 12th seed Berdych.
Wanting to savour the moment can hardly be surprising for a man who just 12 months ago was denied a chance to defend his title when his creaking knees told him enough was enough.
If knee transplants had been available, Nadal would probably have been the first one in the queue to sign up.
But since ditching the troublesome knees was not an option, he took the slow road back to fitness and has now learned how to deal with the niggles as and when they crop up.
"I've worked very hard to be back here and I did. For that reason it is very important," said Nadal, who uncontrollably sobbed into his towel just four weeks ago at the sheer relief of reclaiming his French Open crown, his fifth at Roland Garros.
"If I win it will be very emotional for me but if I lose, I will accept with the same calm.
"I know how difficult it is to win another time here. I know how good my claycourt season was and how good this tournament was for me," added the 24-year-old, who became the first man to make a clean sweep of the big four clay titles in one season.
"It's a dream for me to be back here and winning important titles like Rome, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Roland Garros. Being back in the final of Wimbledon is amazing for me."
In case Berdych gets carried away hoping that his sledgehammer forehand can also destroy Nadal's hopes, the second seed said: "For me the final it's not a big pressure because I did very well the last six, seven months."
Date created : 2010-07-04