Nadal not resting on laurels

Updated: 18 August 2008 11:54 IST

Two days from being crowned the world no. 1, Rafael Nadal is not taking things easy before the men's singles final on Sunday.

Nadal not resting on laurels

Beijing:

Rafael Nadal will be crowned world number one on Monday, and he'll probably be Olympic champion too.

Add that to two Grand Slams, five other titles and the comprehensive dethronement of Roger Federer, and it's been quite a season already.

Nadal faces Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in Sunday's final and on current form, an upset looks unlikely.

Any lingering doubts about the new pecking order in men's tennis have been erased here, with Nadal passing the sternest of tests against Novak Djokovic while Federer fell by the wayside.

"He's the best in the world now. Obviously he's been playing the best tennis this year," Djokovic said.

Nadal, 22, arrived in Beijing looking tired and content to rest on his laurels after ending Federer's five-year Wimbledon run on his way to finally reaching the top ranking.

After a slow start against Potito Starace he has gone from strength to strength, dismantling Lleyton Hewitt and Igor Andreev before the high-quality three-setter with Djokovic.

"It's a dream to be in this final. When I arrived here, I didn't expect to be in this final," he said.

"I arrived very tired, with a lot of matches in my shoulders, without playing my best tennis. But during the week I felt better and better."

Irritatingly for Federer, who placed the Olympics at the top of his season list, Nadal freely admits the Grand Slams mean more.

"For tennis, the slams are a little bit more important. But after a slam, Olympics are the most important thing in my opinion," he said.

"But, you know, everyone has different goals."

Gonzalez's achievements in securing his second straight medal, after his 2004 bronze, have been overshadowed by a sportsmanship row.

US number one James Blake was furious at the Chilean after their semi-final, claiming he touched a ball which went out at a crucial moment in the deciding set.

"That's a disappointing way to exit the tournament when you not only lose the match, but you lose a little faith in your fellow competitor," Blake said.

Gonzalez shrugged off the comments as he goes in search of his second Olympic title. As well as singles bronze, he also won the doubles with Nicolas Massu in 2004.

"If I'm 100 percent sure about it, I will give it. But I'm not sure. I'm just moving, that's all," he said.
The 15th-ranked Gonzalez, 28, will point to his 2-0 record against Nadal on hard courts, including last year's Australian Open quarter-finals.

And a tournament notorious for upsets has lived up to its name with Federer and the Williams sisters falling in the last eight. No top-five player has ever won men's gold.

However, Nadal has stepped up a gear this season and looks a formidable opponent in his last match as world number two.



Topics : Tennis Rafael Nadal
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