Untouchable Nadal blows Berdych away

RAFAEL NADAL swatted the challenge of Tomas Berdych to claim his second Wimbledon singles title on Centre Court and rip away Roger Federer’s standing as the world’s dominant force.

In doing so he became the first man to do the French Open and Wimbledon double on more than one occasion since Bjorn Borg.

Swedish great Borg watched in admiration from the royal box, 30 years on from his fifth and last Wimbledon triumph, as the irresistible Spaniard took just over two hours to add to his 2008 title.

A 6-3 7-5 6-4 victory emphatically underlined Nadal’s position as the number one player in the world and suggested he has every chance of emulating the Swede’s achievement in claiming those coveted twin titles in consecutive years.

“If you want to play well on a surface and you are good player you find a way,” said Nadal. “To play well on grass at Wimbledon was always a dream for me and the most important thing is to believe you can do it.

“It didn’t happen since Borg but now it has happened for the last three years (as Federer achieved the feat last year).

“I know how important the grass-court season is and that is why after winning at Roland Garros I go straight to practice at Queen’s. Having the experience can help a lot.”

Nadal looked for all the world like he had grown up playing on the grass rather than the heavy red clay of Majorca as he steamrollered an opponent who had so impressively dispatched top seed Federer in the quarter-finals.

So impressive was Nadal in beating Andy Murray in the semi-finals that he was an overwhelming favourite against Berdych, despite the Czech’s consecutive wins over Federer and incoming world number two Novak Djokovic.

The gangly Czech, the first men’s finalist from his nation since Ivan Lendl lost the 1987 final to Pat Cash, started solidly enough, holding his first service game to love and fighting through the first six games unscathed.

Yet like a champion boxer in the other corner, Nadal coiled on the baseline preparing to pounce on his opponent’s slightest weakness. Berdych wobbled on serve at 3-3 and Nadal duly whizzed a winning return to take the first set’s crucial break.

Berdych did his best to bounce back at the start of the second set, fashioning three break points in a 10-minute game but ultimately again coming off second best.

In a match entirely bereft of anything resembling serve-and-volley tennis, Berdych’s bid to match Nadal from the back-court looked an impotent strategy, riddled as it was with the unforced errors that would once more cost him dear.

Three of them were flung off his racket at 6-5 and, just as he had so ruthlessly against Andy Murray in the semi-final, Nadal seized his chance to take the set and effectively end any hope Berdych had of forcing his way back into the match.

Berdych had an all-too-rare break point chance on the Nadal serve in the third game of the third set, but met it with a weak netted backhand.

The final blow was delivered by Nadal when a battered Berdych served to stay in the match at 5-4 down and flayed a forehand long to give the Spaniard a Championship point.

With the match clock showing two hours and 12 minutes, Nadal issued his final, ferocious cross-court forehand of the fortnight, sinking to his back before performing an unexpected forward roll and saluting the crowd.

Berdych admitted: “The biggest difference between us was when he got the chance he took it. He gave me chances in the second and third sets and I couldn’t make the break. It just shows how strong he is.”

Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner won their first grand slam title in emphatic fashion with a straight-sets victory over Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt in the men’s doubles final on Centre Court.

The Austrian-German partnership were unseeded but defeats for top-ranked pairs Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, and Bob and Mike Bryan earlier in the tournament opened the door.

Melzer and Petzschner, who won their first title together in Zagreb earlier this year, raced out of the blocks, winning the first set easily before edging two much closer sets to run out 6-1 7-5 7-5 winners.

India’s Leander Paes and Zimbabwe’s Cara Black won their first Wimbledon title together last night with a 6-4 7-6 (7/5) victory over Wesley Moodie and Lisa Raymond in the mixed doubles final.

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