WIMBLEDON, England – Rafael Nadal knows exactly where he was on the first Sunday of July 2009, the only time in the past five years that the Wimbledon men’s final went on without him.
“I watched at home,” Nadal said. “On the sofa.”
A year ago, he was in front of a TV in Spain, resting his aching knees, only the fifth player in the history of a tournament that began in 1877 unable to defend his title because of injury.
He’s here now – again in the Wimbledon final, again on top of his forehand-whipping, every-shot-retrieving, foe-demoralizing game. The No. 1-ranked Nadal picked apart No. 4 Andy Murray of Britain 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in the semifinals Friday to close in on a second trophy at the All England Club and eighth Grand Slam championship overall.
“For sure, that makes (it) more special,” Nadal said, “because I worked a lot to be back, playing my best tennis. I did, so that’s very important. Personal satisfaction, no?”
On Sunday, Nadal will take on someone other than Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final for the first time: 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Berdych followed up his quarterfinal upset of six-time champion Federer by ousting No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3.