Rafael Nadal comes to Wimbledon in a position he has never been in. Before this year, the Spaniard had never triumphed at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same season. He is now halfway to becoming the first men's singles player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
A year ago, Novak Djokovic won the first three majors of the year before falling in the US Open final. Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion (2008, 2010), will try to get closer to this feat at SW19, where he will be the second seed.
The southpaw will also try to move further away from his main rivals in the race for the most Grand Slam titles. Nadal won his 22nd major at Roland Garros, while Djokovic and Roger Federer each have 20. It is the 36-year-old's first appearance at The All England Club since 2019, when he lost in the semi-finals against Federer.
Both Nadal and Djokovic practiced on Center Court on Thursday, a historic moment at Wimbledon. It was the first time the tournament had allowed practice on Center Court and Court No. 1 before the first day of the event. The organizers allowed it to help the players get used to the conditions.
Nadal trained with Italian Matteo Berrettini, who advanced to his first major final at Wimbledon a year ago. The Italian underwent surgery on his right hand in March, but quickly returned to fitness on the pitch. Berrettini has won all nine matches he has played since his nearly three-month absence, lifting trophies in Stuttgart and at The Queen's Club.
Djokovic is 79-10 in the grass-court major and has won the last three editions of it. His top seed will chase his seventh Wimbledon trophy and 21st major crown over the next two weeks. The Serb practiced on Center Court with former Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic.
Rusedski comments on Nadal
Speaking on Amazon Prime, Rusedski reckoned that the six-time Wimbledon champion remains angry and hurt because of the way events have turned out for him recently. "Djokovic is angry because he hasn’t won a Slam this year and the way he went out to Rafael Nadal at the French Open will have hurt him," Rusedski said.
"Rafa’s trying to go for the calendar Slam. He wouldn’t be showing up if his foot wasn’t 100 per cent and he was ready to go," Rusedski added. Djokovic had planned to claim his 21st at the Australian Open. However, Australian authorities banned him over his vaccination status.