Nadal feeling comfortable on grass

Published: Monday 15th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Rafael Nadal will break his four-year Queen’s Club absence on Tuesday because his “knees are fine”, the first three months of his season were “terrible” and UK tax rules for overseas sports stars have eased.

Nadal conceded he was “not surprised” he failed to win the French Open, an otherwise home-away-from-home for the clay court king.

The 29-year-old insisted “I don’t know and I don’t care much now” if he wins a major title this season or not.

Nadal won his first grass court title for five years at Stuttgart last week however, and might just be well-placed to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final for the first time since finishing as runner-up in 2011.

“My knees are fine, it’s obvious that if my knees are fine I have chances to compete well, and grass is the second surface where I had more success in my career,” said Nadal, who faces Alex Dolgopolov at Queen’s on Tuesday.

“I feel comfortable but I have to play well. Today I don’t have physical limitation like I had in 2012 and 2013, so that’s important.

“I didn’t play well enough before (the French Open). The first three and a half months of the season have been terrible for me, very bad, playing very badly almost every week.

“In the last month and a half I feel that I am playing better.

“Most importantly I am enjoying being on court again.

“Before I was not enjoying it, and I didn’t have the chance to play I wanted because I was playing with too much nerves.

“The second half of the season started for me last week (with victory in Stuttgart).”

Novak Djokovic deposed Nadal in the French Open quarter-finals this year, prompting a quick-fire switch to grass preparations for the Mallorca native.

Nadal was already practising at Stuttgart by the time Stan Wawrinka shocked the tennis fraternity by edging out Djokovic to the Roland Garros crown.

Back at Queen’s after a four-year absence, Nadal is capitalising on a switch in UK tax law, whereby overseas sports stars are now taxed solely on the days they are competing or training when based in Britain, not for their entire stay.

“I think it’s changed a little bit in the last year,” said Nadal of the tax situation.

“It’s still not ideal for us, but it’s better than a few years ago.

“I had to stop playing here for a while.

“But I like playing here; it’s the right place for me to be.”

Asked if he feels ready to compete for further grand slam titles, Nadal said: “I don’t know, and I don’t care much now.

“My main goal is finish the season healthy. Finish the season healthy and try to have the chance to play the full season.

“I was not happy to lose in the quarter-finals but this year I didn’t make the right things before Roland Garros so I was not surprised that I lost.

“I must accept that, accept that there is another player who was playing better than me in that moment.

“Mentally I feel strong. I have the motivation to be back to my best.

“Winning last week, I had a very good week on grass.

“Winning grand slams or not, I won enough in my career, 14 are enough.

“I am going to keep trying my best.

“And today, having only played six months, in my computer I am the number 10 in the world.

“More than half of that six months was very bad, so if I am able to be the number 10 in the world playing that badly, if I am able to play a little better, I will be higher, for sure.

“I don’t want to sound arrogant but I didn’t see the match (French Open final) – I was already practising in Stuttgart.

“I only had chance to watch a few games, with my physio telling me the score, but that’s tennis, no? Stan is a great player, very aggressive, and he can beat anyone.”

Published: Monday 15th June 2015 by The News Editor

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