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Nadal always seems to have the edge over Federer. Until recently, Federer had the edge over Djokovic, who beat the Swiss star in the U.S. Open semifinals in September and the French Open semifinals last week. And for a stretch of seven consecutive wins that began in 2011 and was capped by the 2012 Australian Open final _ a 5-hour, 53-minute epic _ Djokovic had the edge over Nadal.

“If you’re going to build a player that’s going to trouble Roger Federer on every surface, you build Nadal. And if you’re going to build a player that’s going to trouble Nadal, you build Robin Soderling with the movement of Novak Djokovic. And suddenly, Novak Djokovic at No. 1 is hitting the ball like Soderling, but he moves like Novak,” Wilander said. “So it’s amazing how they all fit each other really badly. The one big thing is Novak has now maybe turned the corner on Federer completely after here. … He’s the one to beat (at Wimbledon) _ Novak is still the one to beat, for sure.”

Djokovic had won 27 consecutive Grand Slam matches until his setback against Nadal in Paris, falling one win short of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four straight major titles. Nadal, beaten by Djokovic in London, New York and Melbourne, avoided becoming the first man to lose four straight major finals.

“For us, it was very important to win here against Djokovic, because a fourth Grand Slam loss would have been ugly,” said Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and coach.

Now they start over at Wimbledon, where play begins June 25. Before opening the defense of his first title at the All England Club, Djokovic will rest _ he’s taking this week off.

Nadal isn’t wasting any time getting ready to move from clay to grass courts, flying Tuesday to Germany, where he’s entered in a tournament on the green turf. His schedule provides no downtime: travel Tuesday morning, practice on grass Tuesday afternoon, doubles match Wednesday, singles match Thursday.

“That’s the calendar,” he said. “The calendar says we only have this period of time on clay, and I don’t have more chances to play on clay.”

Don’t feel too sorry for him. Sure, Nadal is the undisputed King of Clay, owner of a record seven French Open titles. But he also already owns two Wimbledon championships, in addition to three runner-up finishes there _ against Federer in 2006 and 2007, and against Djokovic last year.

Nadal already owns 11 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic five. Put those numbers together, and you get Federer’s 16, the record.

The question isn’t whether Nadal and Djokovic will continue to add to their totals.

The question is how many more times they will do it at the other’s expense.


Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. He can be reached at hfendrich(at) or