Rafael Nadal opts against grass tournament before Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal believes he can mount a strong challenge for the title at Wimbledon without playing a tournament on grass beforehand.

Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 to secure an astonishing 12th French Open title on Sunday.   -  AFP

Rafael Nadal will not play in a grass-court tournament before Wimbledon to ensure he is fully fit for the third grand slam of the year.

Nadal beat Dominic Thiem 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 to secure an astonishing 12th French Open title on Sunday.

The 18-time grand slam champion has not entered a grass-court event prior to Wimbledon since an appearance at Queen's Club four years ago and the world number two will not be altering his schedule.

From 2005 to 2019 - All 12 of Rafael Nadal's French Open triumphs

"I know I played a great event last year [at Wimbledon]. I have been able to be very close to win another title there." said the 33-year-old Spaniard, a two-time champion at SW19.

"As everybody knows, I love to play on grass. And as everybody knows, I am not able to play so many weeks in a row like I did 10 years ago, eight years ago. So I have to do my schedule.

"So I will not play before Wimbledon, of course. I felt competitive the last couple of years, so why do I need to change that? What gives me a better chance is being healthy more than playing a lot of matches before."

 

"The last two years that I played in Wimbledon, I felt close again. Even though I lost to Gilles Muller [in the fourth round] in 2017, I played great tennis there too. I was very close to being in the quarterfinals, and last year I was one point away from the final [when losing in the semis to Novak Djokovic].

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"So I will not play before Wimbledon, of course. I felt competitive the last couple of years, so why do I need to change that? What gives me a better chance is being healthy more than playing a lot of matches before."

Nadal was not in the right frame of mind after suffering injury setbacks earlier in the season, but revealed the turning point came at the Barcelona Open.

"After the first round in Barcelona, I was able to stay alone for a couple of hours in the [locker] room and think about it and think about what's going on, what I need to do." he said.

"And there had been a couple of issues that I had to decide. One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body. And the other was [to] change drastically my attitude and my mentality to play the next couple of weeks.

"Thinking a lot, finally I think I was able to change and was able to fight back for every small improvement that I was able to make happen. And since that first match against [Leonardo] Mayer in Barcelona, I think the things have been improving every single day since today.

"I played not bad in Barcelona the next three rounds. I played better in Madrid, and I played much better in Rome, and here I played a great event.

"So of course these small things that I have been improving every single day and doing with the right attitude, doing with the right passion, that's the only way for me to be back where I am today.

"Of course [to] have this trophy with me means a lot. But the personal satisfaction of changing the dynamic is the thing that I am more satisfied with."