London :Two years ago in Paris, Andre Agassi respectfully called Rafael Nadal "a freak of nature." Confused French reporters asked for a clarification.
"Where I come from," Agassi said, "that's a compliment."
From where most of the tennis world comes from, Nadal's ferocious nature on court is the dominant factor in today's Wimbledon men's final against Tomas Berdych.
"I'm afraid Nadal is so ferocious," said Rob Castorri, a top teaching professional from the United States, that Nadal will squelch any effort by Berdych to open up the match.
Castorri said it would take a skilled, serene, and thoughtful opponent like Arthur Ashe to patiently dismantle a player of Nadal's physical strength and determination.
"I saw the 1975 match here when he played Jimmy Connors and Connors was ferociously beating everybody," Castorri said. Ashe, regarded lightly by some sports writers, sliced, chipped, and charged his way to the Wimbledon crown in four sets, astonishing his critics.
"We didn't think he had a chance and hoped he wouldn't be humiliated," said Bud Collins, the sportswriter, author, and tennis historian. Instead, he said, Ashe found the keys to victory.
"I don't think Berdych has that kind of ability," said Castorri, who suggested that a blowout was not out of the realm of possibility.
Berdych's strengths don't translate to an Ashe-like stealth, tending instead toward the bull-like pressure he used to defeat Roger Federer in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. When it comes to that type of pressure, however, Nadal would seem preeminent. And yet, Berdych has grown into a much more complete player in recent months so that even in the most lopsided analysis, it is difficult to rule out the possibility of an upset at Centre Court, however remote the possibility.