Rafael Nadal - RUNNER-UP
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England finished their Test series against the West Indies on a high as they overcame the tourists and some tricky weather conditions to secure a comfortable seven-wicket win in the fourth Test.
Wednesday, 20, Jun 2007 09:00
BEATEN BY ROGER FEDERER (FINAL)
7-6 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-2.
Date of birth: 03/06/1986 (Age: 21)
Weight: 85 kg
Plays: Left-handed (two-handed backhand)
Turned professional: 2001
Current ATP singles ranking: 2
Best Wimbledon performance: Runner-up, 2006 - lost to Roger Federer
Grass court pedigree
Until 2006, Nadal's record on grass was average at best, even for a teenager. His first appearance at Wimbledon in 2003 - indeed, his first appearance on grass on the main tour - should have been an indication of things to come, as the 17-year-old Nadal became the youngest male player to reach the third round since 16-year-old Boris Becker in 1984.
However, having withdrawn from the 2004 event, he displayed what can only be described as a clay courter's aversion to the hallowed surface by falling at the second hurdle at the All England Club to the little-known Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in 2005, despite having won a grand slam in Paris just weeks before. Indeed, his first foray onto the grass that year - at the Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle - also resulted in an embarrassing defeat, in this instance to Germay's Alexander Waske.
And so, in spite of the fact that he had won on the red clay at Roland Garros for the second year in succession, much the same was expected of Nadal in the 2006 grass court season.
Surprisingly, though, Nadal warmed up for Wimbledon at Queen's Club and looked impressive, winning two matches before succumbing to a shoulder injury in the quarter-finals against eventual winner Lleyton Hewitt. He went on to reach the final at the Championships, losing to the irrepressible grass-court force that is Roger Federer.
Along the way, though, he convinced doubters that he could well be a future Wimbledon champion, as well as a clay court legend.
Wimbledon seeding: 2nd
Chances of SW19 success?
Nadal approaches the Wimbledon fortnight on a high. He recently won the French Open for the third successive time and in the process re-asserted his dominance over Roger Federer, who had brought an end to his run of 81 successive clay court victories in the final of the Hamburg Masters in May.
However on grass Federer is an altogether different proposition and should the players meet again in the final the chances are he will triumph and expose Nadal's relative inexperience on the surface.
It would even be foolish to suggest that Nadal will reach the final on what remains his least favourite surface, despite last year's heroics. While he is almost unbeatable on clay - apart from the aforementioned blip in Hamburg - on other surfaces, and particularly grass, he is unable to dominate quite so effectively. Expect grass court specialists like Mario Ancic, Lleyton Hewitt and especially Andy Roddick to cause him problems if they meet in earlier rounds although it would still be a shock if Nadal went out earlier than the semi-finals.
Most likely to get annoyed at.
Allegations of drug-taking. Nadal was linked - the size of his biceps tell you why - with the doping scandal that engulfed the Tour de France last year and threatened to get his lawyers involved.
In a damning attack, Rafa asserted that "people who write lies about other people are bad people". Ouch.
Most likely to ring his mum live on TV when.
Judging by his comments, Rafa's an emotional man.
"I don't think it's good to control it too much sometimes; I think if you need to cry, you should cry," he said last year. Expect Federer-esque waterworks if he lifts the famous old trophy.