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Nadal hoping for Olympic gold medal
09:09, August 05, 2008

MADRID: Rafael Nadal has two major achievements so far this year - he took the Wimbledon title by beating Roger Federer in an epic final and stacking up enough wins to unseat the Swiss star atop the rankings.

Now the 22-year-old Spaniard is aiming for Olympic glitter to his trophy room which already brims with the laurels of 30 titles including five Grand Slam events and 12 Masters series victories.

"I'm going to really enjoy the Olympic atmosphere, I'm sure, and I'm out to try and win a medal," Nadal told The Associated Press on Sunday. "It's an honor to represent your country and I look forward to taking part," Nadal said before catching a 13-hour flight to the Chinese capital.

In addition to Wimbledon and the French Open, Nadal has won the Conde de Godo, Hamburg, Monte Carlo, and Queen's tournaments this year.

In two weeks Nadal will automatically appear on the Aug 18 rankings as No 1, breaking Federer's record 235 consecutive weeks tenure.

"I feel pretty much as I did yesterday morning, or last year," he said. "It's another step in a long process which has taken a lot of very hard work and which really started coming together about four or five years ago."

Nadal, who began playing tennis in the village of Manacor on his native Mediterranean island of Mallorca, said no one should underestimate Federer's ability to fight back.

"The whole world needs to continue seeing him as the enormous champion he has been and quite definitely still is," Nadal said.

Nadal's on-court style has been called muscular and aggressively physical compared to Federer's, which is referred to as elegant and athletically economical in movement.

"People tend to talk about how my style leads to injuries, but I think they have got that wrong. I have only really had one troubling injury and that was in 2005."

Nadal suffered a persistent left foot injury after playing at the Madrid Masters that forced him to withdraw from several matches including the 2006 Australian Open. Blisters have also been a recurring problem.

"I have worked hard on my game and feel much better about my ability to cover the court," said Nadal.

Nadal, who until this year had been considered a clay-court specialist, proved the point by winning on grass at Queen's and Wimbledon.

"Wimbledon has been an incredibly hard experience for me, but this year I managed to do it better. I managed to win," said Nadal.

Nadal beat Federer in an epic 4-hour, 48-minute battle of wills, winning 9-7 in the fifth set.

"Wimbledon is special, it was a very special experience for me."

Remarkable as Nadal's progress has been, the soon-to-be top player in the world thinks he still needs to improve his game.

"Every morning I wake up with clear goals in my head on how I need to improve my game," Nadal said. "I want to become a better tennis player."

Source:China Daily /Agencies

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