Rafael Nadal recalls: ‘I was more experienced than Berdych, and that helped me’

After two heartbreaking losses to Roger Federer in back-to-back Wimbledon finals, Rafael Nadal went all the way at the All England Club in 2008. The Spaniard topped the Swiss in a memorable final for his first Major crown outside Paris and the first “Channel Slam” since the days of Bjorn Borg. Rafa skipped Wimbledon in 2009 due to an injury and made a strong return in 2010 to lift the second title in the cathedral of tennis in three years. For the first time since 2002, Roger Federer did not make an appearance in the Wimbledon final, losing to Tomas Berdych in the quarters and allowing the Czech to fight for the trophy against Rafa.

Nadal had to work hard in the early rounds to remain on the title course, prevailing over Robin Haase and Philipp Petzschner and playing on a high level against Robin Soderling and Andy Murray to reach the fourth consecutive Wimbledon final. With his vast experience in notable matches, Rafa was the favorite against Tomas and proved that with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 triumph in two hours and 13 minutes for the eighth Major crown at 24. They had a similar number of winners and unforced errors, and Nadal forced over 40 mistakes from the opponent to control the pace and seal the deal in straight sets.

Rafael Nadal claimed the second and last Wimbledon title in 2010.

Rafa fended off four break chances and stole the opponent’s serve four times to extend his run. After six comfortable holds on both sides, Nadal drew first blood with a break at 15 in game seven and earned another at 5-3 for the most reliable start. Serving at 5-6 in set number two, Tomas sprayed a forehand error to suffer a break at love, falling two sets to love behind and pushing Rafa closer to the finish line. Returning at 5-4 in the third, the Spaniard placed a perfect forehand crosscourt winner to grab a break and celebrate the title, an emotional one after skipping Wimbledon in the previous year. 

“I was very nervous before stepping on the court ahead of the final. Tomas was very prepared and, although I knew he is a great player, I felt I was the favorite. I knew that if I played well, I would win that final. That generated that pre-match tension for me. It was not an excellent encounter, far from it, but I did what I had to do in the pivotal moments. I took advantage of my opportunities, playing solid tennis and never losing serve. I made no mistakes; that’s what I had to do on that day. Also, I was more experienced than him in matches like that; that also helped me,” Rafael Nadal said.

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