Belfast Telegraph

Things we learned from Wimbledon

By David Kelly

Rafael Nadal now stands ahead of his great rival Roger Federer as the number one player in the world.

Nadal, free from injury, is now the man to beat on the red clay of Roland Garros as well as the lush lawns of the All England Club.

Known as the ‘King of Clay’ because of his five French Open successes, he only needs the US Open to complete a career grand slam.

“When I was a kid I didn't feel like a clay-court specialist,” he says. “I practised on hard courts and clay and I didn't play better on one or the other. On grass the most important thing for me is to want to play well. If you want to play well and you're a good player you will find a way to do it.”

The swashbuckling Spaniard had his moments of danger in the first week of Wimbledon but as he settled down, he rolled over the opposition with breathtaking menace.

Nadal has developed an astonishing forehand, combining power and wicked top spin that at times seems almost unplayable, while his amazing athleticism is second to none.

Federer, now ranked three in the world, has to prove that he can re-group and return to handle the intensity of Nadal, starting with the US Open.

Federer’s dominance of the men’s game seems to be at an end but it is too early to suggest he will not be a Grand Slam winner again — indeed he could well rule in New York on September 12.

Andy Murray needs new weapons in his armoury.

In 2008 Murray was crushed by Nadal and that led to the British No.1 revolutionising his physical conditioning, which has clearly paid off.

But another thrashing from the World No.1 in this year’s semi-final has sent out another warning that he needs to polish up his game if he is to cross the rubicon and become a Grand Slam champion.

It is evident that he must force himself to adapt his natural counter punching style and mix it up with some serious power.

Too often, when it comes to the crunch clashes with Nadal and Federer as well as fellow sharp shooters Juan Martin Del Potro, Robin Soderling and of course Tomas Berdych, he doesn’t have the weapons to repeatedly hurt such rivals.

The Scot has the guile and skill to land one of the big four but we are still waiting to see if he has the nerve.

The post Nadal-Federer and Williams sisters’ era will be dominated by those from eastern and central Europe.

Come the middle of this decade, Serena and Venus will have moved from centre stage along with Federer while Nadal’s body by that stage could well be crying out for a rest from the pummelling he gives it every time he plays.

Berdych should have established himself as a Slam winner by then, while coming through will be this year’s boys’ singles winner Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

On the women’s side, the girls’ singles title was won by the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova, while the doubles title saw Timea Babos of Hungary triumph with American Sloane Stephens.

British tennis isn’t in that bad a state at junior level, after all.

Maybe the future of the game in the UK is getting a little brighter when you consider that Oliver Golding and Laura Robson made the boys’ and girls’ singles semi-finals.

In addition to that, there was an all British boys’ doubles final, which saw Liam Broady and Tom Farquharson triumph over Lewis Burton and George Morgan.

Some will believe there is a need for a fifth set tie-break.

American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s 11-hour marathon broke all records but naturally left both of them exhausted. Isner eventually won it 70-68. Maybe it could come in at 20-20?

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