In the summer of 2004, a young Tomas Berdych ended one of Roger Federer's few incomplete dreams of winning an Olympic Gold medal in the Men's singles competition. Six years forth and the prodigious Czech is back again on a bigger and grander stage.
Having overpowered the Swiss legend on the latter's beloved Centre Court, Berdych promptly went on to prove that his victory was no flash in the pan. He dismantled the ever-consistent Serb Novak Djokovic in the semis and now casts an imposing shadow over that hallowed Wimbledon trophy.
This is the perfect setting for Berdych to carve his name in eternal tennis glory. It feels like nothing dare stand in his way of capturing the Wimbledon crown.
Unfortunately there is.
There's a bull waiting at the Wimbledon gates and his name is Rafael Nadal.
Of all the people Berdych could have run into in the final, Nadal is the worst because he acts as the antithesis to the quintessential Berdych game plan.
He runs quicker than anyone, for longer than anyone and he crafts the angles on his ground strokes with a discomfiting panache. Furthermore, the Majorcan epitomizes what sport calls the will to win and it is because of this that no one would dare bet against him.
No one but yours truly.
Rafael Nadal is the better player.
Rafael Nadal is the better player on grass.
Rafael Nadal is the best player in the world!
But if Rafael Nadal plays at the peak of his prowess and Tomas Berdych does the same? Then we have an exciting problem.
In tennis, it's called a five set thriller.
This match could end in three sets if Nadal plans and executes his breaking-down strategy to perfection. However, if he gets off on the wrong foot and fails to slam the door shut before Berdych's big toe sneaks in then it's going the distance. Four sets, possibly five.
It doesn't have the makings of the Wimbledon classic that we've gotten accustomed to but this match has a lot else. It features a contrast of styles and it features a player who has the perfect game to blast someone as competitive as Rafael Nadal off centre court.
What Nadal needs to do is simply do what he does best - chase and retrieve balls from every possible corner and be risk-free with his shot selection.
Berdych on the other hand, needs to play the match of his life and he's capable of doing exactly that.
He needs to put extra zing onto his already-flat and powerful forehands.
He needs to put more than 60% of his first serves in and he needs to play the tie-breaks well because trust me, there will be at least one if not more.
If the 2010 Wimbledon Championship goes to the player who wants it more, then Rafael Nadal will be crowned as a two-time champion tomorrow. There is arguably no one ever in the history of tennis who has wanted to win more than Nadal.
But Berdych can change this course of history and along with it briefly halt the Spaniard's imperious charge towards tennis's hallowed echelons. He goes in to battle tomorrow with the knowledge that he controls his own destiny and that a Wimbledon crown will make him the most unexpected grand slam winner since Gaston Gaudio conquered the red clay of Roland Garros over six years ago.
I know who to bet on and it's Nadal. But I'll take the risk of sounding like an ignorant novice when I state that Berdych will pull this off. The Czech will play the game of his life and close this match out in four of the tightest sets possible.
Tomas Berdych def Rafael Nadal 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 7-5
If this doesn't happen, he'll surrender to Nadal in three or four just like almost everyone has this Wimbledon.
And to think that a Spaniard once said that grass was for cows!
Stay tuned for parting thoughts and reflections once the sun has set on SW19!
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