John McEnroe is so impressed with
new Wimbledon champion Rafa Nadal he believes he can become an all-time great.
And he claimed the voracious world
No.1 will complete his career Grand Slam by winning the US Open in September.
The unstoppable Spaniard overtook
Super Brat’s haul of seven Major titles with his second All England Club
triumph on Sunday. The only Grand Slam missing from his resume is the US Open,
where Nadal has reached the semis in the last two years. But McEnroe now
reckons Nadal will take his grass court form on to the hard courts of Flushing
Meadow – as long as he remains fit.
“Nadal wants to win the US Open so
badly,” the American said. “It’d be hard not to pick him at this time even
though he’s never won it. The guy’s just an animal. He’s mentally and
physically incredible and he can definitely do it if he’s in this shape.
“The conditions in New York don’t
suit Nadal so well and he needs to make his body hold up. So I think after
Wimbledon he is going to take some time off and get his knees recovered and
then maybe not play too many matches before the Open.”
Only six men – Andre Agassi, Don
Budge, Roy Emerson, Federer, Rod Laver and Fred Perry – have won all four Major
Nadal missed the defence of his
Wimbledon title last year because of tendinitis in both knees and has played a
reduced schedule this season while still winning five titles. But he admitted
maintaining his health was the key to finally winning at Flushing Meadows.
“For sure, the US Open is going to
be one of my goals for the rest of my career but it is very difficult,”
admitted the Majorcan, who beat Tomas Berdych in straight sets in a one-sided
“I hope to be ready, to be healthy
because for the last few years I had problems. Last year I had abdominal
trouble, two years ago I arrived totally exhausted mentally and physically at
the semi-finals against Andy Murray after the Olympics and winning here.
“This year things might be a bit
different. Now the most important thing for me is to rest in Majorca and then
have three weeks like a mini-preseason practice there.”
At 24, Nadal has claimed eight
Grand Slams on three different surfaces in Paris, London and Melbourne. At the
same age, record holder Roger Federer had won only six of his 16 titles. But
the Spaniard, who has won 31 of his last 32 matches after claiming a Grand Slam
of all four big claycourt titles this season, said he had no idea how many more
he can win.
“I don’t know if I can improve but
I have the motivation to improve,” he said. “If it is not like this I don’t
want to play tennis anymore.”