Continued from page 1

Now they move to Wimbledon, where Nadal is the defending champion and won the title each of the past two times he entered the tournament (he withdrew in 2009, citing a knee injury).

Nadal, who kept his No. 1 ranking Monday thanks to his French Open championship, was heading straight from France to England, where he will make the transition from clay to grass at the Queen’s Club tournament.

“Always a big change. Even if I had success on grass (in past) years, for me, (it’s) a big change all the time,” he said. “So I have to adapt my game another time and try to remember what I did well on grass, why I played well on grass, what I have to do to have the same feeling.”

Play starts at Wimbledon in two weeks, and in addition to tracking Nadal there, tennis fans will want to keep a close eye on two other men: Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Until losing to Federer in a thrill-a-minute French Open semifinal, Djokovic was 41-0 in 2011 and on a 43-match winning streak overall. The 24-year-old Serb has won two Australian Open titles, in 2008 and this January, but he has yet to go beyond the semifinals at Wimbledon.

Djokovic also is 4-0 against Nadal this season, and would have moved up from No. 2 to No. 1 in the rankings if he’d gotten past Federer on Friday or if Nadal had lost on Sunday.

And Federer? Well, all he’s done at Wimbledon is take home six titles, one shy of Pete Sampras‘ modern-day mark.

“That’s obviously the huge priority right now, to win Wimbledon in a few weeks’ time. That’s always, for me, the sort of No. 1 goal in the season,” Federer said. “This is where it all started for me back in 2003.”

While he lost in the Wimbledon quarterfinals a year ago, Federer proved in Paris that, even as his 30th birthday in August approaches, he is still someone to be reckoned with.

“It was just important to get to another Grand Slam final, keep on playing well,” said Federer, who had gone more than a year without reaching the title match at a major tournament, his longest gap since he won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon eight years ago. “I’m feeling better physically than I have in a long time, so that’s been very positive.”

Who knows how many more Grand Slam titles he’ll collect?

And what about Nadal?

After Sunday’s final, a reporter asked Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and coach, how big a deal it was to have won six French Opens.

“When his career is over, there will be time to reflect,” Uncle Toni said. “But right now, I think Rafael thinks the sixth is the same as the second. We’re happy to have won one more tournament, to have won one more Grand Slam title. And now he has 10, something we never imagined.”


Story Continues →