Nadal: 'Expectations Are Always High'
Rafael Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion who recently lifted his 11th Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy at Roland Garros, might not have played a grass-court event ahead of The Championships. But the World No. 1 has no intention of dimming his hopes.
“Expectations are always high,” Nadal said. “I am not here to play the tournament. I am here to try to have a good result, of course. But it’s true that on the other hand, it’s one of these events that you arrive here and you really don't have the previous feeling of how you feel, how you are playing, how you are not playing.”
In fact, a shortage of matches before the grass-court Grand Slam is nothing new for Nadal. When he made the final at Wimbledon in five consecutive appearances (2006-08, 2010-11), he played just three matches on the surface before the major four times. To Nadal, that’s fine. It’s just a part of the challenge.
“Even with three matches, you arrive here and you really don't know very well. It’s an event that you need to find your confidence during the tournament and during the practice the week before,” Nadal said. “When I arrive to Roland Garros, I know more or less if I am playing well or if I am not playing well. I know where my chances are, more or less. In the US Open, little bit less, but still knowing better than here."
Nevertheless, Nadal is confident heading into his 13th appearance at the All England Club. The left-handed 32-year-old is 30-2 on the season, capturing four tour-level titles for the 11th time.
“I'm feeling good,” Nadal said. “It’s a very special event, of course. I always loved to be around here. Has been always a special thing. It was not positive for me, of course, to not play Queen's. I was sad to not have the chance to be there. On the other hand, I didn't go there because I played a lot on clay. So I was very happy.
“I am not 20 anymore. I had to take decisions on the schedule sometimes... The body needed a rest, needed a slow adaptation to adapt to the grass. That's what I did.”
Nadal will hope that pays off, beginning with his first-round match against Israeli veteran Dudi Sela, against whom he has not lost a set in two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. The first seeded player Nadal could face is Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato, who reached the semi-finals this week at the Nature Valley International.. Plenty of dangerous players loom in the No. 2 seed's quarter, including No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro, 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin, No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
On the 10-year anniversary of his maiden triumph on the legendary grass, Nadal is simply ready to begin another run for a title.
“Today I see that like a long time ago,” Nadal said. “But the good thing is I’m still here. I am happy for that.”