Rafael Nadal will one day retire as one of tennis’ greatest ever players, he is already assured of that. The Majorcan may be struggling at the moment to find his best form after some troublesome injuries, but the 14 Grand Slams that he has already chalked up will be enough to cement a lasting legacy.
The 28-year-old, and indeed most tennis fans, must wonder exactly how many more Majors that Nadal could have won if he wasn’t in an era alongside Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – two other greats of the sport.
While it looks as though Federer will end his career as the sport’s most successful ever player, currently with 17 Grand Slams, he will also be remembered for his all-round domination on all surfaces, except perhaps for the clay courts- we all know why he hasn’t won as much on that surface.
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While Nadal will go down as the ‘King of Clay’, he may rue some missed opportunities to win more at the other Slams, Wimbledon included.
After some stunning duels with Federer in the competition’s two greatest ever finals, arguably, Nadal cracked the ‘King on Grass’ and could have gone on to build as big of a stronghold in London as he has done in Paris.
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LACKLUSTER IN LONDON
It hasn’t worked out like that though.
Since 2011, Nadal, shockingly, has only managed to win a paltry four matches in three years at the Championships; in truth it is a pathetic amount for a player of that ability as stature.
The old adage goes ‘fail to prepare – prepare to fail’: I think Nadal has suffered from exactly that. The last time he played at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up at Queens Club was 2011 – the last time he reached the final, and has won just those four matches since.
There aren’t many grass warm-up events in the lead up to Wimbledon and Queens is a vital part of the preparation. The fact that he has chosen to skip the event shows a lack of care for the London Grand Slam, and results have been effected because of it.
For these reasons, it’s a relief and good decision for him to return this year. It would seem at the moment that he needs all the practise he can get as he bids to return to form, and while he may and expect to be back firing by the time Queens arrives, his participation will give him a great chance for an improvement on grass.
The people that this news will benefit most is of course the fans too. He has such a strong support in England, even his matches versus Andy Murray usually have a 50/50 split – that number may even tip over half if they match-up this year too…