'Rafael Nadal wouldn’t be showing up if...', says expert



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'Rafael Nadal wouldn’t be showing up if...', says expert

Halfway to becoming the first man to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969, Rafael Nadal starts against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo in his first competitive match on grass since 2019. Nadal, who is downplaying concerns of a recurring foot injury, could face heavy-serving Sam Querrey in the second round and then No.

27 seed Lorenzo Sonego. He will be wary of No.14 seed Marin Cilic, should the pair meet in the fourth round. The Croatian, runner-up in 2017, became the fifth active player to reach the men's semi-finals at all four Grand Slams with his performance at Roland-Garros and backed it up with a run to the semi-finals at Queen's Club.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, the No. 6 seed, looms as Nadal's quarterfinal foe. The Canadian pushed the 36-year-old to five sets in the fourth round in Paris and reached the last eight at SW19 last year. If Nadal advances, he faces the prospect of ousting arguably the fittest man on grass.

Mateo Berrettini has not lost in nine matches on the surface, winning trophies at Stuttgart and Queen's Club. Runner-up to Djokovic last year, the Italian's immediate return to form was all the more remarkable after missing nearly three months after he underwent surgery on his right hand in March.

For Berrettini to reach his second consecutive Wimbledon semi-final, he would possibly have to topple No.4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 23-year-old Greek has long been considered to have the right game on grass, but he made it to the fourth round just once, in 2018.

Two-time champion Andy Murray returned to Wimbledon practice this week after withdrawing from Queen's with an abdominal injury. The 35-year-old Briton won seven of his nine grass-court matches before The Championships, including second place behind Berrettini in Stuttgart.

Nadal wants to win Wimbledon

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.

Weighing in on the competition that the 35-year-old could face at Wimbledon, the 1997 Wimbledon quarterfinalist asserted that Nadal, who had grappled with injury problems prior to winning the French Open, wouldn't be playing at SW19 if he wasn't totally fit.

"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.