Sunday’s mens’ singles final is set: It’s Nadal vs. the best player in the world on grass, Roger Federer, who is seeking his sixth-straight Wimbledon singles title — and my belief in Nadal as the ultimate victor here has not wavered. I remain unchanged in predicting that the magic man from Mallorca will defeat the Swiss Master to win his second consecutive major and his first on a surface that is not clay.
This will be the third consecutive Wimbledon title showdown between the two best players in the world. And to be clear both stars are more than worthy of winning it all on Sunday but I just feel that this is Nadal’s year — and that’s written with no disrespect to the marvelous Federer.
So why do I believe the Spanish matador can reign supreme in England after being best man to Federer as the Wimbledon groom the past two years?
Well, Nadal has improved so much since he nearly toppled Federer last summer in the Wimbledon final — eventually watching that title match slip into Federer’s hands 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2.
Nadal has improved more in the past year than Federer has so that’s an advantage to the Spaniard. I actually wonder if it’s possible that Federer — a true great in this sport — can get any better no matter how hard he works. That said, it’s a ridiculous mistake by those who have of late started to write Federer off when it comes to winning majors. He is only 26 and if his desire to play the game remains at its current high level, he has a bunch of years still ahead of him to continue to add to his great resume in the sport.
Nadal has shown such incredible improvement this season that it’s amazing to think that at 22 he could keep improving for years to come. I believe that if Nadal had won one of the set points he had in last year’s opening-set vs. Federer in the Wimbledon final it’s entirely possible he would’ve won his first Wimbledon trophy but that’s not the way the ball bounced.
Nadal has made great strides in improving his serve and that will definitely aid him during any encounter, especially one on grass against Federer.
Nadal understands how to succeed on grass much better than he did when he played Federer here for the first time in a final — losing that 2006 title match in four sets.
I wouldn’t exactly say that Nadal is a natural on grass but he’s figured out the surface and he’s adapted his excellent movement around the court to suit the lawns. The fact that Nadal won his first grass court title at Queen’s Club last month against a very tough field – he posted wins over Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic — provides him with a little extra boost of confidence heading into Sunday’s championship clash with Federer.
When I write that I expect Nadal to win it in no way means that I believe Federer is not capable of winning his sixth consecutive Wimbledon singles trophy. Believe me — and I’ve been around this game a long time — Federer is more than able to prove my prediction wrong.
For all I and others feel we know Federer could actually turn the tables on Nadal and beat him on Sunday as badly as Nadal crushed him in the French Open final last month. After all, we’ve seen how dogged Federer is when he sets his sights on a goal and we know how comfortable Federer is on grass — he’s won 65 consecutive grass court matches and 40 in a row at Wimbledon.
Nadal did not play as well in his semifinal triumph against Rainer Schuettler of Germany as he did in his other matches this fortnight. But that should not worry his fans as it’s a natural reaction after what he went through with the build up to his quarterfinal match against Brit favorite Andy Murray of Scotland.
Federer, who has worked his way through the draw without dropping a set, has certainly looked quite comfortable against Russian Marat Safin in their semifinal. His serve was deep, varied and I couldn’t believe the way he hit the lines all day long.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
My concern with Federer is that when it comes to his besting Nadal, I’m just not sure there’s much room for him to improve his game and continue to get the best of the Spaniard. It’s my opinion that the world No. 1 has reached his crest but I also know that he could prove me wrong — in fact, if he reads what I’ve wrote here I’m sure it will give him extra incentive to win on Sunday.
Part of Federer’s problems this year have been health-related. He started the season off with what they call glandular fever on this side of the pond — that would be mononucleosis or the kissing disease to Americans. While I can see that Federer is doing better of late, I believe he’s still not in perfect health and that is to at least some degree impacting his results.
From what I hear — and I am not Dr. Collins — it can take a year to fully recover from mononucleosis. But Federer shouldn’t worry — in my mind he’s only 26 and if he can keep himself in good health and in good fitness — he will hit the prime of his career at age 30.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open final Sunday.
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