x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Halle defeat could be a good thing for Rafael Nadal

Early exit gives world No 1 some much-needed rest ahead of Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal was beaten by Dustin Brown at Halle. Carmen Jaspersen / AFP
Rafael Nadal was beaten by Dustin Brown at Halle. Carmen Jaspersen / AFP

Grass is for cows. Remember those words of Ivan Lendl, who decided to skip the All England Championship in 1982 and go on a holiday instead?

In fact, those words were first uttered by Manuel Santana, who skipped Wimbledon in 1965 after failing to progress beyond the semis in his first seven visits to London. He returned in 1966 to win the title. Lendl had no such luck. He made 14 attempts and reached the final twice, but could never manage to get his hands on the All England trophy.

Rafael Nadal does not figure in the same category. He has already won Wimbledon twice, the first in 2008 when he ended Roger Federer’s run of five consecutive wins after losing two finals to the Swiss on the trot.

In recent times, the “King of Clay” seems to have developed feet of clay on grass and could be muttering those same words under his breath. He has now lost three consecutive matches on the surface, starting with that defeat to Lukas Rosol in the second round of the 2012 Wimbledon.

Last week, just four days after winning his record ninth French Open crown, the Spaniard was knocked out at Halle by world No 85 Dustin Brown. The result was probably not a surprise given his effort at Roland Garros and the condition of his back.

That defeat could be a blessing in disguise. It gives Nadal some much-needed rest and, when he arrives in London this week fresh and fit, the Spaniard knows he can erase those recent anomalies on his grass-court graph.


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