(Reuters) – Rafael Nadal has taken a tumble in practice and lost two warm-up matches in what has appeared a problematic build-up to Wimbledon but he was adamant on Saturday that he will be ready to launch a concerted assault on a third title.
The Spaniard, who looked in prime form when winning a 12th French Open title three weeks ago, has sometimes found the quick cross-Channel transition to grass court fare after his domination on French clay a troublesome one down the years.
Nadal, who chose to skip a grass court tournament warm-up and instead lost two exhibition matches to Marin Cilic and Lucas Pouille at the Hurlingham club in London, confirmed on Saturday that he had taken a fall in a practice session.
Yet the 18-times Grand Slam winner brushed aside the tumble which happened earlier in the week, telling reporters: “Yes, I fall over, but grass sometimes is slippery. Nothing happens. I am good, yeah. Nothing.”
His two defeats at Hurlingham, though, suggested that he has work to do to rediscover his best as he faces what looks a fiendishly difficult path in this year’s event.
The likes of Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov, Cilic and Dominic Thiem could be potential opponents even before possible clashes with the other two members of the ‘big three’, Roger Federer and champion Novak Djokovic.
Yet the 33-year-old, who has mixed two titles (2008, 2010) and five final appearances at Wimbledon with seven exits before the quarter-final stage, shrugged off any concerns.
“It’s day by day, step by step. I have been improving every single day since I arrived here. I hope to be ready, being honest. I think I see the normal evolution,” he said.
“In Hurlingham, I didn’t play bad, just played against players that have been playing on grass for many more days, competitive start.
“Every hour and every match I am able to win helps a lot because I am playing well, I am coming with good confidence after playing a good end of the clay court season.”
Nadal begins on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita. However, after that seemingly straightforward opener things promise to get difficult quickly with a potential second-round clash against Kyrgios.
The unpredictable Australian has beaten Nadal both at Wimbledon back in 2014 and also this year in Acapulco, with an extra edge having been added by Kyrgios’s comments about the Spaniard being “super salty” when he loses.
Yet Nadal was not about to be drawn into talking about the most eagerly-awaited of all possible second round contests.
Asked about his relationship with Kyrgios, he said: “I don’t know Nick, being honest. I don’t want to talk about Nick much because I am not playing against Nick. I am playing against Sugita.
“Every match is tough. If I am able to win my match and if Nick is able to win his match (against fellow Australian Jordan Thompson), you will have the time to ask me about the next match, no? That’s all.”
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge)