The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

No rest for the weary: French Open champ Rafael Nadal hopes to 'play well again' at Wimbledon

  • Print

PARIS - His ninth French Open title behind him, Rafael Nadal already is thinking ahead to what's next: Wimbledon.

That's why he planned to waste no time and go directly from France to Germany on Monday to get ready to play in a grass-court tuneup tournament.

Nadal's collection of 14 Grand Slam titles, only three shy of Roger Federer's record for men, includes two championships at the All England Club. But the most recent came in 2010, and Nadal's past two trips to Wimbledon were quite brief: He lost in the second round in 2012, and the first round in 2013.

"I want to try to play well again in Wimbledon," the No. 1-ranked Nadal declared Sunday night after beating No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open final to improve to 66-1 at the clay-court tournament. "I'm healthy. That's the most important thing, I feel."

The big question about Nadal always was longevity, and whether his 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter), 188-pound (85-kilogram) body would hold up to the constant pounding from his relentless style.

Well, now he is the only man with at least one Grand Slam title in 10 consecutive years. And having turned 28 last week, the Spaniard is roughly two months older than Federer was when he got his 14th major.

But Nadal was slowed by a bad back during a loss in January's Australian Open final. Of more concern: his knees. He decided not to defend his Wimbledon title in 2009, then was sidelined for the last half of 2012 because of a problem with his left knee.

"I hope my knee will have the positive feeling on grass, because I feel my knee (is) better than last year in the rest of the surfaces," Nadal said. "Grass always was a little bit harder for me after the injury."

This part of the tennis schedule is unforgiving, allowing two weeks to adjust from clay to grass between the French Open and Wimbledon. That changes next year, when a third week gets added.

For now, there is time to contemplate story lines that will matter when Wimbledon starts June 23.

Djokovic, for example, will try to set aside his latest disappointment in Paris, coming up short again in his bid to complete a career Grand Slam. Djokovic has won six major titles — four at the Australian Open, plus one each at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open — but he has lost in the finals at three of the last four Slams.

That includes a defeat at the All England Club a year ago, when Andy Murray became the first British man to win the title since Fred Perry in 1936. So Murray would be the centre of attention, anyway, and he gave everyone another reason to keep a close eye on him by hiring former women's No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.

The fourth member of the Big Four, Federer, has lost before the quarterfinals at three of the last four Slams, a stretch that began with a second-round exit at Wimbledon.

It will also be worth watching how players who had breakthroughs at the French Open follow that up. Ernests Gulbis, for one. Simona Halep, Andrea Petkovic and Garbine Muguruza, too.

And then there are a couple of previous Wimbledon winners who followed very different paths in Paris.

Serena Williams was the defending champion at the French Open, and departed in the second round, beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Muguruza. Williams vowed to "go home and work five times as hard to make sure I never lose again." After her last early exit at Roland Garros — in 2012's first round — she went on to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Sharapova, meanwhile, earned a second French Open title and fifth major overall, overcoming a dozen double-faults in her three-set victory over Halep in the final. Now it's on to Wimbledon, where Sharapova won her first Grand Slam championship at age 17 in 2004.

"Even though you always remember those incredible moments of holding that trophy," Sharapova said, "you got to try to erase that from your mind because you got to create new ones."

___

Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. Write to him at hfendrich@ap.org or reach him via Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google