Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nadal, Williams Are Looking Unbeatable; but Wimbledon's Grass Is a Much Bigger Challenge for One of Them

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nadal, Williams Are Looking Unbeatable; but Wimbledon's Grass Is a Much Bigger Challenge for One of Them

Article excerpt

PARIS * Right now, French Open champions Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are as good as it gets in tennis.

The next time we see them competing, though, at Wimbledon in two weeks, Nadal will be merely a serious contender, while Williams will be the unquestioned favorite.

Both are 43-2 in 2013. He's won 22 matches in a row. Her winning streak is at 31, the longest single-season run on the women's tour in 13 years.

Nadal's Grand Slam title total now stands at 12, tied with Roy Emerson for the third most in the history of the men's game, behind only Roger Federer's 17 and Pete Sampras' 14.

Williams is up to 16 major singles trophies, sixth best among women, with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova right above her on the list at 18.

Now comes the shift from the clay of Roland Garros to the grass of Wimbledon, and that is where the similarities end. Williams is a five-time champion at the All England Club, including a year ago, and the way she's playing at the moment, there is little reason to anticipate anyone beating her there this time. Nadal, despite his recent form, is only one of a group of men who can think of themselves as possible champions, along with No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Andy Murrray and No. 3 Federer.

"The objective now is to celebrate tonight," Toni Nadal, Rafael's uncle and coach, said Sunday, when his nephew won his eighth French Open championship by easily beating David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the final, two days after outlasting Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set of a wonderful semifinal, "and then we will see if he plays well at Wimbledon."

Even the Nadals acknowledge that "Rafa," as many call him, is not quite as superb on grass as he is on clay. How could he be? He is 59- 1 in the French Open, with four titles in a row from 2005-08 and another four in a row from 2010-13, and the only man to claim eight titles at the same major tournament. …

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