Rafael Nadal arrives at Wimbledon in a position he has never been in.
Before this year, the Spaniard had never triumphed at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same season. He is now halfway to becoming the first men’s singles player to win a Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
A year ago, Novak Djokovic won the first three major tournaments of the year before falling in the US Open final. Two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal will try to get closer to achieving the feat at SW19, where he will be the second seed.
The southpaw will also try to distance himself further from his main rivals in the race for the most important titles. Nadal won his 22nd Slam at Roland Garros, while Djokovic and Roger Federer have 20 each. This is the 36-year-old’s first appearance at the All England Club since 2019, when he lost in the semi-finals to Federer.
Nadal and Djokovic trained on center court on Thursday, a historic moment at Wimbledon. It was the first time the tournament allowed practice on Center Court and No. 1 Court before the first day of the event. The organizers allowed it in order to help players get used to the conditions and get on the courts.
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Nadal trained with Italian Matteo Berrettini, who qualified for his first major Wimbledon final a year ago. The Italian underwent surgery on his right hand in March but quickly returned to form on the grass. Berrettini has won all nine matches he has played in his nearly three-month absence, winning trophies at Stuttgart and Queen’s Club.
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Djokovic is 79-10 in the grass major and has won his last three editions. The top seed will chase her seventh Wimbledon trophy and 21st Major crown over the next fortnight.
The Serb trained on center court with former Wimbledon runner-up Marin Cilic. The Croatian has returned to some of his best form in recent weeks, having reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and Queen’s Club.