REUTERS - Rafael Nadal is adamant that he will not be discouraged by the memory of recent Wimbledon woes as he prepares to follow up his landmark 10th French Open triumph with a third success on the sport’s most storied lawns.
Nadal spurned the chance of a warm-up tournament at Queen’s Club to put less pressure on his body after his exertions at Roland Garros. He opted to fine tune his game in Mallorca instead.
Now, Spain’s two-times champion is determined to improve on a series of shock defeats he has suffered to unheralded opposition at Wimbledon since winning his last title in 2010 and reaching the final the following year.
Nadal lost to Lukas Rosol in the second round in 2012 when struggling with knee problems, Steve Darcis in 2013 (first round), the then new boy Nick Kyrgios in 2014 (fourth round) and Dustin Brown in 2015 (second round) before missing last year with a wrist injury.
Yet he is adamant that the losses have not left a scar.
“My motivation is always high in all the events that I play. If not, I am not playing,” said Nadal, whose victory in Paris took his grand slam total to 15.
”It’s true that what happened with my knees in 2012 was more difficult (but) at the same time, it’s true that in 2014 I played a good event when I lost in the fourth round against Nick. But I had my chances, too.
”After that, last year I couldn’t play (and) 2015 was not my year, of course.
”Let’s see what’s going on this year. I know it’s always difficult. I am excited to be playing again here, in a tournament that I really love. But at the same time I tell you, it’s a tournament that you can go out very early.
“But if I am able to go through at the beginning, I think I am with confidence. I am playing well since the beginning of the season, so let’s see.”
This is somewhat of an understatement from the modest 31-year-old.
Since reaching the Australian Open final at the start of the year, where only a dazzlingly rejuvenated Roger Federer could eclipse him, Nadal has won four clay titles. At times he has looked something near to his rampaging finest.
Nadal confirmed that his coach Carlos Moya would not be attending Wimbledon with him but added that his uncle Toni would be part of his “great team”.
He sounded refreshed by his spell training at home. “It was great,” he said.
“I would love to have been playing in Queen‘s, obviously, but after the last three months and after what happened in Roland Garros, we decided that for my body it was better to have a slower change to the grass.”
Reporting by Ian Chadband,; Editing by Pritha Sarkar