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Nadal switches focus to Wimbledon

Patrick Vignal | June 06, 2005 13:35 IST

French Open champion Rafael Nadal switches his attention to Wimbledon having already done more than enough to show he is not just another Spanish baseliner.

The gifted 19-year-old, whose raw power, amazing fitness and superior mental strength strongly suggest he can thrive on any surface, immediately clicked into grasscourt mode after his Paris triumph.

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"I have a flight to go to Halle," he said, referring to the German tournament starting on Monday, where he will warm up for Wimbledon.

"I will try improve my tennis on grass to prepare for Wimbledon."

Nadal, described by John McEnroe as the most exciting newcomer since Boris Becker won Wimbledon for the first time 20 years ago, is not expecting to go all the way at the All England Club this year.

"I can't challenge for the title," he said. "I want to improve on grass and that's why I'm going to Halle. I like playing on grass a lot. I know it's not my best surface, it's a little bit fast.

"I need to improve some things in my game to play better in grass and on fast courts. My serve-and-volley game has to get better."

Nadal, who destroyed opponents on his way to the French Open title, is on a 24-match winning streak on clay and has established himself as the ultimate force on that surface.

He has demonstrated that he could be dangerous on hard courts, reaching the final of this year's Miami Masters Series event and giving world number one Roger Federer a tough match.

The muscular left-hander, who has a decent serve and a devastating forehand, played Wimbledon in the senior ranks only once before two years ago, losing in the third round to American Andy Roddick, a genuine grasscourt specialist.

Nadal proved in Paris that he is a true fighter, always holding his nerve and never giving his opponent an easy point nor running out of steam. That rare quality should make him a threat on any surface.

If Mariano Puerta, who bowed out to Nadal in the Paris final after a spirited challenge, is to be believed, the tennis world must get ready for more amazing feats by the fist-pumping Spaniard.

"I think we are talking about someone who is going to write a page in the history of tennis," the Argentine said.

"I think he's going to do beautiful things in tennis, like Andre Agassi. He's going to become a legend of tennis.

"I think he has the mental strength to beat records. I believe that if winning Wimbledon is his objective, he will make it."


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