For just the second time in his professional career, Rafael Nadal lost a match at the French Open. It was a quarter-final loss to Novak Djokovic, who would go on to finish runner-up at the tournament to Stan Wawrinka. The nine-time Roland Garros champion will now look to regain his lost form and gradually rise in the rankings again when he competes at the Mercedes Cup for the first time. He will begin with a second round match against Marcos Baghdatis, whom he holds a 7-1 head-to-head record against.
Now that the king had been downed at the French Open, it is clear that Nadal is far from the form that won him 14 Grand Slam titles over the years. Given that grass courts were never Nadal’s favourite surface, it will be interesting to see if the Spaniard has enough time to practice and get comfortable on court.
“It’s time to think about practice,” said Nadal. “First time on grass is always hard. I’m going to try my best, practise as much as I can today and tomorrow and Wednesday for my first round match.”
“I played on the Centre Court yesterday and for a first-year event, the court is in great shape, so congrats to everyone for that,” said Nadal. “Now I get to play two weeks before Wimbledon for the first time, so I hope that helps.”
Nadal will come up against Baghdatis, who defeated Lukas Rosol in the opening round of the tournament in straight sets. The Cypriot struck 10 aces, won 89% of his first service points and converted four break points to close out the match 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and six minutes.
This marks the ninth time that Nadal and Baghdatis will cross paths on the professional tour, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 7-1. This is just their second meeting on grass after their first one took place back in 2006 at the Wimbledon semi-final. Given that the former Australian Open runner-up has already had a warm-up match on grass, it will be interesting to see if he offers up a challenge for the Spaniard en route to the following round.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets