PARIS (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal says winning a French Open-Wimbledon double for the third time in his career will be “complicated” but is highly motivated to have a go as he prepares for the grasscourt season.
The 31-year-old captured an unprecedented 10th Roland Garros title in sensational style on Sunday, thrashing Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in the final after a faultless fortnight in Paris.
It maintained a return to form and fitness for the Spaniard who also reached the Australian Open final at the start of the year and who climbed to number two in the rankings on Monday – his highest mark since 2014, since when he has often been battling injuries.
Inevitably thoughts are already turning to Wimbledon and the prospect of Nadal repeating his 2008 and 2010 victories – both of which followed hot on the heels of winning French titles without dropping a set as he did this year.
Nadal, never one to fuel the hype, warned against installing him as a favourite on the Wimbledon lawns where he has also lost three finals; especially as his recent record there is dismal.
“Since I have had problems with my knee, since 2012, playing on grass has been very complicated for me,” Nadal, who lost only 35 games at Roland Garros to become the first player to win the same grand slam title 10 times in the professional era, said.
”We’ll see how my knee behaves. Playing on grass is very special. You need to play at a lower level. The body posture is down. You have less stability.
“But keep in mind I played five finals in Wimbledon. I like playing on grass. On grass, anything can happen. I‘m motivated.”
After steamrolling through the European claycourt season, compiling a win-loss record of 24-1 with titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before regaining his French Open crown, Nadal will spend a few days relaxing at home in Mallorca before playing in the Wimbledon warm-up at Queen’s Club.
After weeks spent on the bouncy red clay, it is a tough transition and Nadal is well aware of the dangers having suffered early defeats at Wimbledon to the likes of outsiders such as Steve Darcis, Lukas Rosol and Dustin Brown.
Since losing in the 2011 final to Novak Djokovic he has not gone beyond round four while last year he could not play because of the left wrist injury that curtailed his French Open. He also pulled out in 2009 when his creaking knee prevented him from trying to defend his title.
”I could win the first two matches and then things could change,“ Nadal, whose first grand slam title for three years took his total to 15, said. ”The fact is that the two first matches could be very dangerous.
”I need to feel strong, low, and have powerful legs to play well in Wimbledon. If I have pain in the knees then I know from experience that it’s almost impossible. If I am healthy and I am able to have the right preparation I’ll have my chances.
Nadal’s incredible form - he is 43-6 so far this season - means there is also the strong possibility of overhauling Andy Murray and ending the year as world number one for the first time since 2013.
“Winning these kind of titles, then you have chances to become any number on the ranking. I don’t know. I am playing well. If I am able to keep playing well, why not?” he said.
“I am right now seeded No. 2. We will see what happens during the rest of the year. It really depends on me.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly