Tennis

Rafael Nadal’s calendar Slam bid faces Novak Djokovic problem on grass

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns against Switzerland's Roger Federer during their men's singles semi-final match on day 11 of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW COULDRIDGE / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

FILE–Spain’s Rafael Nadal. (Picture by ANDREW COULDRIDGE / POOL / AFP) 

Rafa Nadal‘s hopes of successful Wimbledon for the primary time in over a decade and staying on monitor for the calendar yr Grand Slam will meet a well-known adversary in Novak Djokovic who’s bidding to increase his domination on the grasscourt main.

For the primary time in his profession, the Spaniard has received the Australian and the French Open back-to-back and has the prospect to grow to be the primary man to win all 4 majors in the identical yr since Rod Laver achieved the feat in 1969.

Serbian Djokovic completed one match in need of carrying out it final season when he received the primary three Grand Slams however misplaced to Russian Daniil Medvedev within the U.S. Open closing.

When Djokovic received Wimbledon for the sixth time and the third in a row in 2021, it was his twentieth main title — placing him in a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Nadal within the race for probably the most Grand Slam titles amongst males.

The 35-year-old Djokovic has not received a significant since whereas Federer has not performed since final yr’s Wimbledon.

July 11, 2021 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning his final match against Italy's Matteo Berrettini

FILE–Serbia’s Novak Djokovic. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Djokovic’s followers argue that Nadal‘s job was comparatively simpler at Melbourne Park this yr as he didn’t need to beat the Serb who was not allowed to defend his Australian Open title because of his unvaccinated standing towards COVID-19.

The 36-year-old Nadal, who has not performed Wimbledon since his 2019 semi-final loss to Federer, beat Djokovic within the Roland Garros quarter-finals this month earlier than happening to raise a record-extending 14th French Open title and twenty second main.

Nadal‘s power foot downside will once more be in focus however his activity at Wimbledon, the place he received in 2008 and 2010, is predicted to be tougher with Djokovic unbeaten there for 21 matches.

With world primary Medvedev banned from collaborating and second-ranked Alexander Zverev lacking because of harm, Djokovic is the highest seed and Nadal quantity two.

The duo can solely meet within the July 10 closing in the event that they progress via the draw.

“Novak would possibly most likely be the person to beat as a result of he’s been doing very properly,” stated Eurosport pundit Alex Corretja.

“He’s been successful there. He’s the defending champion, and it’s going to be tremendous troublesome to beat him. He serves nice, he returns excellent, he strikes properly, he performs deep.

“So I don’t suppose there are too many guys on the draw that basically really feel they’ll beat Novak best-of-five on grass.”

MAIN CHALLENGERS

Matteo Berrettini Stuttgart

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini. (Picture by Bernd Weißbrod / dpa / AFP) 

Matteo Berrettini, runner-up final yr, will fancy his probabilities of difficult Djokovic, having received titles on grass at Stuttgart and Queen’s within the lead-up.

The large-serving Berrettini has received 20 of his final 21 matches on grass together with his solely loss coming within the 2021 Wimbledon closing.

Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz may also depend himself among the many challengers after crushing Medvedev to win the ATP 500 grasscourt event in Halle, Germany on Sunday.

Britain’s Andy Murray, who has lifted the trophy twice on Wimbledon’s Centre Courtroom, and Australian Nick Kyrgios will probably be unseeded threats.

Murray, ranked 51st, confirmed sturdy grasscourt kind together with his runner-up end in Stuttgart however is racing towards time to be match after sustaining an belly harm throughout his loss to Berrettini.

The temperamental Kyrgios skipped the claycourt season to organize for grass and considers himself a top-five, top-10 degree participant on the floor.

The Forty fifth-ranked Australian reached the semi-finals in Stuttgart and Halle.

“If I might be within the Wimbledon draw and I might be seeded, I might pray to not play Kyrgios within the first rounds,” Corretja stated. “It’s so troublesome to play towards him, his serve might be among the best on tour proper now.”

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