POSTED: 8:13 a.m. HST, Jul 4, 2010
WIMBLEDON, England >> Rafael Nadal swept Tomas Berdych in straight sets Sunday to win his second Wimbledon title and eighth Grand Slam championship.
The top-ranked Spaniard beat the 12th-seeded Czech 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in 2 hours, 13 minutes to reinforce his current status as the No. 1 player in the game
Nadal broke Berdych four times and never lost serve in 15 service games, extending his record to 5-0 in his last five Grand Slam finals.
It’s the second time Nadal has won the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back, making the tough transition from clay to grass.
With eight Grand Slam titles, Nadal joins a list of greats that includes Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Fred Perry and Ken Rosewall. He also has five French Open championships and one Australian Open title.
After ripping a crosscourt forehand passing shot on match point, Nadal collapsed on his back on the turf at the baseline and covered his face with his hands. After congratulating Berdych, Nadal leaped out of his chair and did a front somersault on the grass, rising to his feet with both fists clenched.
Nadal won his first Wimbledon title in 2008, beating Roger Federer in an epic five-set final after losing to the Swiss star in the previous two finals.
But Nadal was unable to defend his crown last year because of tendinitis in his knees, watching on television at home as Federer took advantage of the Spaniard’s absence to win his sixth Wimbledon.
“It was probably one of the toughest moments in my career,” Nadal said after accepting the winner’s trophy Sunday from the Duke of Kent. “A win here was always my dream. I did it two years ago.”
Nadal has now won 14 straight matches at the All England Club and “defended” the title he won in his last appearance here two years ago.
“It was amazing for me after a difficult year last year that I can be here,” he said.
Nadal posed with the trophy in the clubhouse next to the green board with his name already etched as the 2010 winner. He cradled the trophy under his left arm as he signed autographs outside the members’ entrance, where hundreds of fans gathered to see him.
Nadal is the first Spanish man to win Wimbledon twice. Manolo Santana took the title in 1966.
“For the Spanish players for the last 40 years it was very difficult to play here,” Nadal said. “We are doing better right now. We are very satisfied for that.”
Nadal beat Berdych for the seventh straight time, a span covering 17 consecutive sets.
Berdych was playing in his first Grand Slam final and was the first Czech to reach the Wimbledon final since Ivan Lendl in 1987. He had beaten top-seeded Federer and No. 3 Novak Djokovic en route to the final, but couldn’t find a way to take out the second-seeded Nadal as well.
“It was a great two weeks for me,” Berdych said. “He was really strong today. He’s showing in the last few months that he’s really the champion and he just deserves to win today.”
In a match short on drama and spectacular points, played in windy conditions, Nadal capitalized on a few weak service games by Berdych to seize control.
It was typical grass-court Wimbledon tennis, with play dominated by serves and only a few break points here and there making the difference. Nadal lost only 24 points on serve.
Nadal played his usual grinding baseline game featuring whippet forehands. Yet it wasn’t a vintage performance from Nadal, who had 21 unforced errors compared to 17 for Berdych. Nadal had 29 winners, two more than the Czech.
But Nadal won all the big points against the 24-year-old Czech, who was playing in his first Grand Slam final and failed to convert any of his four break points.
Nadal broke twice in the first set, dropping only four points in his own four service games. Nadal won five games in a row from 3-2 down in the first set to go up 1-0 in the second.
Berdych’s chances may have evaporated in the first game of the second set, when he failed to convert on three break points. In a game that lasted about 10 minutes, Nadal overcame two double faults and four forehand errors.
Berdych will rue his chance on the second break point, when Nadal hit a relatively weak approach shot and the Czech had plenty of time to line up a forehand passing shot but slapped the ball into the net.
Nadal broke Berdych at love in the 12th game to go up two sets to love. Nadal saved another break point at 1-1 in the third set, then broke Berdych again in the last game to close out the match.