Initially expected to miss Wimbledon with his usual foot issues, Rafael Nadal will infact be competing and has to be considered among the favourites for the title. His attempt at a third straight slam begins against Francisco Cerundolo, in what should be a fairly straightforward opener for the No.2 seed.
Cerundolo has surged up the rankings in 2022 thanks to a shock run to the semi finals in Miami. Prior to that, the Argentinian had also thrived on the clay before earlier in the year with strong runs in Buenos Aires and Rio in addition to some challenger success on the surface. His initial forays onto grass did see him go 1-2 with the win coming against Pedro Martinez, who likely is just as uncomfortable on grass.
Nadal has not played since his French Open title with the focus on pain management rather than matchplay. “First of all, I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day. That’s for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don’t have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half, so quite happy about that.” he said. “And second thing, practising. I have been overall better, honestly. Since the last two weeks, I didn’t have not one day of these terrible days that I can’t move at all… The feeling and overall feelings are positive, because I am in a positive way in terms of pain, and that’s the main thing.”
Tougher times may come for Nadal in the latter rounds where he faces big servers and/or power players but this one as an opener should suit the Spaniard. He is currently 30-3 on the year, including 14-0 at slams so far. This one should be about shaking off the rust and even below par, dealing with a clay courter should be routine for Nadal.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets