Rafa Roundup: How quickly will Nadal adapt to grass court matchplay?

(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)


This one isn’t so much about Cerundolo—the young Argentine, who reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Miami this year, has only played three career matches on grass, going 1-2.

It’s more about Nadal making his return to grass for the first time in three years—this will be his first match on the surface since falling to Roger Federer in the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2019, after the 2020 grass-court season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he had to miss this part of the season last year due to a chronic foot injury.

Some would put Matteo Berrettini ahead of Nadal in the pecking order but, as the No.2 seed and a man who is undefeated in Grand Slam play so far this year, it’s impossible not to include the Spaniard high up the list.

There are question marks surrounding how quickly he will adapt to grass court matchplay – he hasn’t played an official match in three years on this surface – and the in-form Marin Cilic could lie in wait in the fourth round. It will be fascinating to see how far he goes.

“We’re used to seeing Rafa not being able to play and win multiple Grand Slams or tournaments [in a row due to injury],” Tsitsipas said in a pre-Wimbledon press conference.

“That’s where I think the opponents need to be more careful. When he says he cannot play and he has foot problems, that’s where I feel like he’s the most threatening in terms of his performance. It’s actually reverse psychology in a way.”

“I have a lot of respect for what he did at the French Open, playing with that foot. It kind of makes him feel like he’s immortal with the things he’s able to pull off. The matches, the level of intensity he’s able to reach in times where it’s very uncomfortable. It would be uncomfortable for most players to compete under these conditions physically.”

“I’m 19 (years old), like just to be watching Rafa and Novak at such close range and to be able to sort of take parts and try learn from them and you know, walk amongst these great players it’s still special. Like I don’t think it really ever changes when you’re watching those greats and it’s amazing to have them around. It’s only my second Wimbledon, I’m really new to this so it’s still a really special feeling,” Raducanu said.

VIDEO: Nadal, Djokovic, Raducanu and Murray train before Wimbledon

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  1. The thing with other players is that you just can’t rely on them because despite good game they are not mentally strong and five matched they play brilliantly and then easily lose. With Rafa even when he struggles, especially in the first matches, he keeps improving as the tournaments goes on, or if they beat Rafa they mostly lose in the next round. As much as I want to not think about his next opponents, sometimes that’s really hard, but I’m glad that he is one of those who is really focused only on one opponent and not thinking what could be in the next rounds. Wish I could have that mental strength.

  2. Reem Abulleil
    Via ref’s office:

    Marin Cilic has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to illness. Replaced in the draw by lucky loser Nuno Borges.

    • I will be really happy when Rafa’s first round match is won. But Cilic having to pull out is something of a break for Rafa though I have no doubt that Rafa would have handled him in three or possibly four sets.

      Djokovic got the bigger break with Hurkacz losing today. He was Joker’s likely semi final opponent, depending of course on what happens if Carlito makes the quarters.

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