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Nadal Wary of Tricky Wimbledon Opener

Wimbledon, Great Britain

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Rafael Nadal believes that his recent struggles on grass provide him the drive to keep striving to improve, and with that mentality he enters the 2014 Wimbledon Championships refreshed and ready to attack the lawns of the All England Club.

The two-time champion (2008, ‘10) is prohibiting himself from looking ahead, however, as he seeks to overturn a three-match losing skid on the surface, following consecutive defeats at Wimbledon in 2012 (l. to Rosol) and 2013 (l. to Darcis) and a first round exit to Dustin Brown last week at the Gerry Weber Open.

With his 700th tour-level match victory on the line in an opening round tilt with 2012 ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year Martin Klizan, Nadal stresses he is taking it one match at a time.

“I don't see farther than today,” Nadal said, when asked about his biggest threat. “I have a tough first round against Klizan. For the last two years I lost in the first and second round…I start from the first round in every surface. You can imagine even more here on grass.

“Personally I feel that I am doing things better. It is true that for the last couple of years I didn't play lot of matches on grass, but I am confident that I can do it again. I am not talking about winning, (rather) talking about play better than what I did the last couple of years on grass.”

Nadal, who is eyeing a 15th Grand Slam crown, which would move him into solo second position on the all-time major titles list, is seeded second this fortnight. He explains that he was very meticulous in his preparation for Wimbledon, prioritising relaxation after a long clay-court swing.

“I came back home. I didn't practise tennis for a while. I went out with family and friends. I was able to go to a party on Saturday with my friends. I was able to go to the beach few days in Mallorca. I worked a little bit on my physical performance in the gym. But I didn't practise tennis there. I needed a few days off for my back after a lot of stress in Roland Garros.

“I really tried hard in Halle, even though I know I was not able to have good success there. But a few days of practice (on the surface) helped me. It helps me a little bit that when I arrive here on Wednesday it was not the beginning (of the tournament). I am practising hard since I arrived here. More than usual. Practising more hours than what I usually do in the tournament.”

Nadal finds himself in the same half of the draw as rival and seven-time champion Roger Federer and could potentially face Milos Raonic or Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals. Despite tempering expectations, the Spaniard remains positive that he can continue to make his mark at the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon.

“I am here in Wimbledon and I really want to try to play well here. That's my real goal today.”

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