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Alone at the top


Alone at the top

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WIMBLEDON – It was the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, the tournament’s traditional day off, and all the best players in men’s tennis were scattered around the All England Club’s practice courts.Rafael Nadal was there, going through a relatively light training session. To his right stood Roger Federer, hitting on the next court over. To Nadal’s left was Andy Roddick, also on an adjacent court. Andy Murray was out there, too, along with Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling.All were in close quarters that afternoon.A week later, it’s clear that the gap between 2010 Wimbledon champion Nadal and the rest – including Federer – is quite pronounced.“His backhand’s good. His serve’s good. His forehand’s good. His movement is good. He does everything really, really well,” Murray said after being picked apart by Nadal in a straight-set semi-final.And Murray went on to add this: “He’s one of the greatest players ever.”For years, Federer was No. 1, Nadal was No. 2, and no one else was even close. They combined to win 17 of 18 Grand Slam titles in one stretch. But it appears to be a fading rivalry at the moment, because their last match against each other at a major tournament was 1 1/2 years ago.Indeed, right now, Nadal is alone at the top, much the way the woman who is No. 1 and won Wimbledon, Serena Williams, has distanced herself from the pack – in the rankings and on the court.Williams won all 14 sets she played at the All England Club this year and set a tournament record with 89 aces. She’s won five of the last eight Grand Slam titles. The only other woman who’s even reached two major finals in that span is Dinara Safina, and she lost both, then made a first-round exit at the French Open in May and withdrew from Wimbledon with a back injury.Williams’ older sister Venus is now

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