Tennis man-of-the moment Rafael Nadal will draw inspiration from Tiger Woods, the sportsman he most admires, if things get tough at Wimbledon over the next fortnight.
Nadal, who backed up his straight sets annihilation of five-times defending Wimbledon champion Roger Federer at the French Open with his first grasscourt trophy at Queen’s last weekend, watched Woods’s US Open triumph against the odds from his home in Majorca.
“I like a lot his mentality. I like a lot his eyes when he’s going to have the important shot. He always plays with unbelievable determination in important moments,” Nadal told a news conference at Wimbledon on Saturday before the championships start on Monday.
Nadal, who had four days relaxing, fishing and playing golf after his Queen’s victory, said he knew how difficult it was playing through pain as Woods had done before winning in a playoff. Woods announced afterwards he would have to take the rest of the year to treat stress fractures and a knee problem.
“It’s unbelievable winning the US Open like this,” the 22-year-old Spaniard said. “Only Tiger can do this.”
Several former players including five-times winner Bjorn Borg have tipped Nadal to beat Federer, whom he is seeded to meet again in the final at Wimbledon this year after losing the last two.
Nadal would not accept he had overtaken the Swiss world number one as favourite, however. “I can only thank Bjorn for his words…but you know Bjorn is not magic.”
Asked if he thought Federer was more vulnerable than in previous years, Nadal replied with heavy sarcasm “yes: a lot. He didn’t lose a set in Halle, 59 matches without losing (on grass) Come on!”
Federer, as always, played the Halle German warm-up tournament instead of Queen’s, extending his unbeaten run on grass which dates back to Wimbledon 2002 when he lost to Croat Mario Ancic.
Nadal’s Queen’s victory will be an enormous psychological boost, though, as would triumph for Spain at Euro 2008.
Asked whether a Wimbledon title and a Spanish win would constitute a dream summer, Nadal replied: “more than perfect.”
Article adopted from rediff NEWS @ http://www.rediff.com/sports/2008/jun/22rafa.htm