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. Now he is halfway to becoming the first men’s singles player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
One year ago, Novak Djokovic claimed the first three majors of the year before falling in the US Open final. Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will try to move closer to achieving the feat at SW19, where he will be the second seed.
The lefty will also attempt to move further clear of his chief rivals in the race for the most major titles. Nadal earned his 22nd Slam at Roland Garros, while Djokovic and Roger Federer own 20 each. It is the 36-year-old’s first appearance at The All England Club since 2019, when he lost in the semi-finals against Federer.
Both Nadal and Djokovic practiced on Center Court Thursday, a historic moment at Wimbledon. It was the first time that the tournament has allowed practice on Center Court and No. 1 Court before the first day of the event. Organizers permitted it in order to help the players get used to the conditions and break in the courts.
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Nadal trained with Italian Matteo Berrettini, who advanced to his first major final at Wimbledon one year ago. The Italian underwent right hand surgery in March, but has quickly returned to form on the grass. Berrettini has won all nine matches he has played since his nearly three-month absence, lifting trophies in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club.
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Djokovic is 79-10 at the grass-court major and has won its past three editions. The top seed will chase his seventh Wimbledon trophy and 21st major crown over the coming fortnight.
The Serbian practiced on Center Court with former Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic. The Croatian has found some of his best form in recent weeks, having reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and The Queen’s Club.