Nadal brimming with confidence ahead of Wimbledon

“I am playing well since the beginning of the season, so let's see.”

Nadal has a win percentage of 77.3 in grass as compared to his overall win percentage of 87.1   -  Getty Images

Rafael Nadal is perhaps the most in-form male tennis player heading into the Wimbledon, having picked up his 10th French Open title in June. The former SW19 champion also reached the Australian Open final earlier in the year and will be looking to improve his tally of 15 Grand Slam titles.

While grass isn’t his favourite surface — Nadal has a win percentage of 77.3 in grass as compared to his overall win percentage of 87.1 — the Spaniard will be expected to put out a strong fight in the tournament with the top seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic having a mixed run of form in the build-up to the tournament.

Nadal, who will take on J. Millman of USA in the opening round on Monday, spoke to the press about his preparation for the tournament and what it means to be playing at the top level even at the age of 31 .

Excerpts:

Questions: How was your preparation in Mallorca? How do you feel about having grass courts (in Spain) now?

Answer: It was great. I would love to be 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 is better to have a slower change to the grass. We were practicing little bit more every day. I was lucky to have a tournament there in Mallorca. That was a big help. I practiced since the tournament start, since Monday until Saturday. So was a good help.

We were lucky to have a great event in Mallorca. I hope the event holds on. We hope to receive the support from the government and from the people. That's the only way to have success in an event like that.

It's been 15 years since somebody other than you, Roger (Federer), Novak (Djokovic) or Andy (Murray) won the men's singles at Wimbledon. Why do you think, when the other majors have been won by other players, Wimbledon is still owned by the big four?

I don't know. Maybe that will change this year. You never know, right?

It is true that in the other events, it didn't happen very often, too. We have been winning a lot for the last 10 years. But I don't see a particular reason for that.

I understand Carlos (Moya) isn't coming here. Is it because he isn’t into grass or does he need a break?

He has three kids. It's obvious that I have a great team around me. Toni is here. Frances is here. That's why I have three people in my team.

Carlos can rest now. Is important for him to stay with the family, too. I have Toni as always, and Frances helping. Always used him on grass. Was a great help for me. I am happy with them now here.

You must feel this is your best chance for years at Wimbledon. You're obviously in great shape. Andy Murray is struggling maybe a little bit. What is it like going into a major tournament when you don't feel quite right? Is it difficult psychologically to prepare when preparation isn't perfect?

I cannot tell you exactly because I experienced all the things. I had success without feeling myself in great shape. I experienced very negative moments when I was trying to play, and I was not in great shape, like last year in Roland Garros, or like here in 2012. So there is always decisions that you have to take. On the decisions, you take risks. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes its not going that well.

There's always a chance you can perform well even if your preparations aren't fantastic?

Chance always is there. If you are playing, there is always a chance. If you are not playing, there is not a chance.

Andy, he won twice here. He has played very few semifinals and finals (this season). But he knows. Probably it is his best surface. He will have his chances. I really don't know, but I saw him practicing. He will be there and he will be fighting for important things here.

With the recent tragic attacks here in London, what is your overall sense of safety and security here now?

I don't think about that. I will think about that when it happens. I really feel very sad when this kind of things happens, obviously. It is terrible, especially for the people that suffers, for his families. Is true the same time is terrible for the feeling of the people who are living here.

We cannot stop. Life continues. We need to keep doing the normal life. If not, I think you are in a bigger trouble.

Do you have an all-time favourite memory of Wimbledon?

For me is easy, 2008 (smiling).

You haven't been very successful in the most recent years here in Wimbledon. Does this maybe affect you a bit in a negative way, especially psychologically, or do you also draw motivation from the fact that you have won two times here before?

My motivation is always high in all the events that I play. If not, I am not playing. You can imagine always playing here in Wimbledon. For me it has been very, very special. Was one of the biggest goals that I had when I started to have success in this sport, play well in this tournament. I did five times.

It is true that what happened with my knees in 2012 was more difficult. At the same time is true that in 2014 I played a good event. I lost in the fourth round against Nick. But I had my chances, too. After that, last year I couldn't play. 2015 was not my year, of course.

Let's see what's going on this year. I know is always difficult. I am excited to be playing again here, in a tournament that I really love. I really enjoy playing. But at the same time I tell you, is a tournament that you can go out very early in the tournament.

But at the same time, 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.

Roger is back this year after missing the French Open. The match at the Australian Open, the final, even though you were disappointed after it, now five months has passed, do you look back and think, because it was one of the biggest Grand Slam finals for a few years, were you glad to be part of that occasion even though you lost?

I think I spoke of that hundreds of times after that, right? Was a great two weeks for me. I enjoyed the two weeks in Australia. For me, have been very special to be part of that final again.

Of course, I would like to win, but I didn't. The opponent played better than me. That's it. But is true that after Australia, my level keep going in a positive way, so is obvious that that tournament helped me a lot to be where I am today.

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