Rafael Nadal is bearing down on grass practise instead of worrying about his controversial fifth seed as the Spaniard prepares to make his start at the Wimbledon Championships which begin on Monday.
Nadal has twice won the title at the All England club but is paying the price through his seeding for his seven-month injury absence following his second-round Wimbledon loss last summer to Lukas Rosol. The king of clay needed the time off on doctor’s orders to try and rest his chronic left knee injury.
With the 27-year-old winning seven titles so far this season after his February return, the fifth seeding assigned to him at the grass court grand slam - which matches his ATP ranking - has caused some discontent.
But not from Nadal, who could find himself in a quarter-final during the second week of the fortnight against a fellow elite in Roger Federer or Andy Murray.
“The rankings say that these kind of things can happen. I know we are talking about Andy and Roger probably, but I don’t see them before quarter-finals and semi-finals. So I have a long way to work before that,” said Nadal on Saturday.
“I’m number five in the world today, in the rankings. There is no discussion, It is completely fair that I am number five and David (Ferrer) is number four. That’s it,” he said of the man he beat convincingly to win his eighth French Open title 13 days ago.
Nadal’s emphasis is totally on his first-round match with Belgian Steve Darcis. “I’m trying to practise as much as I can since I arrived here. It’s always a nice feeling play on grass, a surface that I really like.
“Without playing a tournament before here, it is always a little bit tougher,” said Nadal, who skipped the Halle, Germany, event on advice of his doctors, who felt he needed to rest his knee after the clay season.
“We’ll see. I hope to be fit and ready for Monday. I didn’t play a lot on grass last couple of years, so I’m really taking care about myself and about the first round. I don’t think about the other things.” Nadal said that though he tried to relax for a week or more at home in Mallorca after his historic Paris triumph, “you cannot forget the tennis when you have Wimbledon in two weeks. It’s impossible.
“I stopped for a few days. I worked on physical performance every day, I didn’t play tennis. By Tuesday (of this week) I was practising here.” Meanwhile, top seed Novak Djokovic sits alone at the top of the draw with a start against German Florian Mayer.
But the Serb said his own task is far from easy. “It’s a grand slam, so I don’t think that there is any easy way to the title, or easy way to win.
“The best in the world are playing in this tournament, the most valuable, most prestigious tournament in the world. Everybody wants to play well, so I got to take it slowly and think only about my next opponent.” After losing a five-set semi-final in Paris to Nadal, Djokovic said he needed time to decompress from his disappointment.
“I put a lot of energy and effort into winning the French. It didn’t happen, but I thought I had a great tournament. I gave my best. It was a thrilling match to be a part of with Nadal in semis.
“I needed that few days just to relax, let the stress go and get another motivation to prepare well for this tournament.”