Tennis

Rafael Nadal told he could face shock early Wimbledon exit after ‘vulnerable’ warning

Rafa Nadal reacts to winning French Open at Roland-Garros

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Rafael Nadal has been warned that he may take some time to get used to the Wimbledon court should he recover from injury and play, as commentator Peter Fleming claimed that the recent French Open champion could be “vulnerable” in the opening rounds.

Nadal will play in next week’s exhibition at the Hurlingham Club in preparation for Wimbledon, as he tests out his foot following a persistent injury. The Spaniard revealed that the pain has eased and that he intends to compete at Wimbledon following Grand Slam wins in France and Australia this season.

“It’s great news,” Fleming said during the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s Club Championships. “Obviously you want all the big stars possible to play in the event and in as much as he has won the first two Grand Slams, that is exciting to see can he possibly win all four. It is unlikely but who knows?

“I think that he will find it more of a challenge than some players would having to take a week or two weeks off, because he likes to get grooved on the different surface. We might just see that he is vulnerable in the first couple of rounds while he works his game into shape.”

Sue Barker replied: “After Rafa winning in the Australian Open he can win any match from anywhere because, for me, that was one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen.”

From two sets and more down, Nadal recovered to defeat Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 and move one clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time standings in one of the most impressive wins of his career.

“Winning the French [Open], I still can’t believe I am saying this but 14 times winning one Grand Slam, that is never going to be beaten,” Barker added. “We never would have thought about that.

“It just shows, and that’s the difficult thing when it comes to Wimbledon is he did it in 2008, he won here and went on and won the greatest match of all time beating Federer in the final in 2008, he is great on the grass courts and he has had so many wonderful matches there, and it is tough coming from the clay to the grass.”

It will be a different Wimbledon this year as the ATP has removed ranking points from the event due to them staying firm on their ban on Russian and Belarusian players. Naomi Osaka has cast doubt on her attendance at the tournament, saying that she may skip the event.

“If you are a player of the calibre of Naomi Osaka, and you need points to motivate yourself to win Wimbledon, then something is deeply wrong,” Fleming said during commentary of Matteo Berrettini’s win over Tommy Paul. “If she can’t motivate [herself] to play Wimbledon then she clearly is not that keen on the game. Nobody is going to look back 30 years from now and go ‘Oh yeah but there were no points there so put an asterisk next to that’.”

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