Nadal is aiming to win Wimbledon for the third time (©GettyImages)
Nadal is aiming to win Wimbledon for the third time (©GettyImages).

Rafael Nadal 'a different player' two years on from Lukas Rosol defeat

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Rafael Nadal’s coach and uncle Toni Nadal has claimed his nephew is a different player to the one that lost to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon two years ago, as the two players meet again on Centre Court on Thursday.

Rosol caused one of the biggest shocks in recent history when they met in the second round in 2012, as the Czech beat the Spaniard in five sets, despite being ranked 100 at the time, 98 places lower than Nadal.

World number one Nadal has not made it to the third round at SW19 in either of his last two attempts, as he was beaten in the first round by Belgian Steve Darcis in 2013, and his first round win over Martin Klizan of Slovakia on Tuesday was his first win on grass in over two years.

Doha victory

His uncle feels he will be unfazed by what happened the last time the two faced each other, in what will be third meeting between the two players, as Nadal won their last match in Doha in two sets earlier this year.

He said: "It's a different Rafa Nadal than two years ago. A better Rafa Nadal. In 2012, he had many problems when he arrived at Wimbledon.”

The two-time Wimbledon champion missed eight months of tennis after that infamous loss to Rosol, as a knee injury forced him to miss the US Open later that year, as well as the Australian Open in early 2013.

Fitness improvement

But the 28-year-old’s coach cited that his improvement in fitness since then makes him a much tougher player to beat, as he attempts to win the men’s singles title for the first time since 2010.

“Rafa struggled in every practice, he couldn't go down on his knees, which is important on grass, and his mentality was not good enough for that reason," he added.

"But now he has good movement and not much pain. He is the number one in the world and that should give him some confidence.”

Fourth Round barrier

Rosol, who set up the clash by beating Frenchman Benoit Paire in four sets on Monday, is now ranked at 52 in the world, though he is yet to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Nadal reached five finals in five appearances at the All England Club between 2006 and 2011, winning two of them in 2008 and 2010.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner became the 11th man in the Open Era to reach 700 career victories when he defeated Klizan on Monday, and he is also aiming to hold on to his position at the top of the world rankings.

Ranking points

His ranking points will increase now that he has improved on last year’s disappointing showing, though he would be in danger of losing the position if he was to fail to make the latter stages and Serbian Novak Djokovic was to win the title.

LIVE UPDATE: Rafael Nadal has lost the first set to Lukas Rosol on Centre Court, with the Czech taking it 6-4. However, the world number one took the second on a tie-break (8-6) to level the match at one set each.

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