Rafael Nadal will look to follow up his French Open title with a strong performance at Wimbledon. After some disastrous results at Wimbledon since his last final in 2011, he finally had a deep run last year – eventually losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi finals. Nadal opens his account against qualifier Yuichi Sugita.
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Sugita was ranked as high as 36 just under 2 years ago but has found it tough establishing himself on the main tour in the period since. 2018 saw a disastrous 7-23 record at main tour level, forcing him to make the switch back to Challengers. He qualified for the tournament with an impressive final round win, beating Lukas Rosol in straight sets. Sugita won the Antalya grass tournament in 2017 so does have previous good form on the surface.
Nadal rarely plays between the French Open and Wimbledon and this year was no different, as he did not compete at an official tournament. Nadal won’t be getting complacent though and should be well prepared for the matchup. “It’s a different situation, different surface, so I need to spend time on court. I’m improving every day. Of course, in terms of a competitive match, on Tuesday [it’s] going to be my first match. Going to be a tough one, a tough start against a player who already played three matches here. So it’s a challenge.” he said.
The type of player that Nadal is vulnerable to early does not match up with Sugita’s game style but he will have to be wary in the second round should Nick Kyrgios advance. The Aussie already has a win over Nadal at Wimbledon and could fancy his chances of blasting the third seed off court a second time if sufficiently motivated.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets