French Open champion Rafael Nadal is preparing for a tricky transition from the clay to the grass of Wimbledon as his bid for a third title at the All England Club begins next week.
The Spaniard was once again dominant during the European clay court season as he emerged victorious in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before winning at Roland Garros for a record eighth time earlier this month.
However, the 27-year-old believes it will take him some time to get used to the conditions in London having not played on grass for such a long time. “I am going without having trained on grass and it is a surface that you have to understand, learn once again and know how to play the points and focus in the right manner in certain situations,” he told reporters yesterday.
Nadal suffered the shock of the tournament last year when he was defeated in five sets by the then World No 100 Lukas Rosol in the second round.
However, that match was the 12-time Grand Slam champion’s last before he was forced into a seven-month injury layoff due to a knee problem and he admitted that he wasn’t in the best shape when he arrived at Wimbledon last year.
“I have gone practically two years without playing on grass because last year I arrived in very bad condition due to the knee, just as much in Halle as at Wimbledon.
“So I have to work from today, doing things right and trying my hardest in every training session, which is the only way to arrive at the first round in good condition.”
Despite his amazing run of seven titles and two more finals since his return to the tour in February, Nadal is expected to only be seeded fifth in Friday’s draw in line with his current world ranking.
And he insists that simply making the second week rather than a third championship is his immediate target. “Wimbledon is not like the Roland Garros, Australia or the US Open where in the course of the match you can go on saving or extending the match.
It is a different situation and you have to be very concentrated in every moment because the match can go by very quickly. I love to play there, where all the matches are especially difficult.
I don’t know how my adversaries will go, but whoever I face, to get to the quarters or semis would be very good news, because it would say that I have had a very good first week.”