Rafael Nadal booked his place in the semi-finals of this year’s Wimbledon tournament yesterday, with a thrilling victory over Juan Martin del Potro. The dynamic Spaniard is now heading towards his best finish at the All England club since 2011, and with rival Roger Federer out of the picture, Nadal has his sights firmly set on a third Wimbledon title.
It’s no secret that Rafael Nadal has something of a chequered history at Wimbledon. While the ‘king of clay’ has dominated the French Open over the last decade, Nadal has never quite been able to assert himself in the same way on grass. Having played in five Wimbledon finals between 2006 and 2011, Nadal’s form at the All England Club became wildly inconsistent. Since 2011 the Spaniard has not managed to progress past the fourth round of the tournament, with injuries playing a significant factor.
“For me the feeling is that there is two or three years that I really played bad. That was ’12, ’13 and ’15. The rest I have been there competitive. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” said Nadal after his fourth round victory over Jiri Vesely.
“It was more about I was not able to compete at the best level than the opponents that played very well. Of course, they played well, and they deserved the victory. If I am playing well, then the opponents have less chance to play that well and beat me.”
Despite his inconsistency at Wimbledon, the 32-year-old has certainly not lost his mojo, and while there were suggestions that Nadal may follow in the footsteps of Federer and avoid the entire grass court season, the Spaniard is now looking better than ever.
Nadal is set for another iconic semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic tomorrow, the man who beat him in the 2011 final. Djokovic has had plenty of issues of his own over the last 12 months, but has looked sharp at Wimbledon so far, claiming comfortable victories over Kyle Edmund, Karen Khachanov, and Kei Nishikori en route to the semi-finals. Djokovic has won 26 of his 51 matches against Nadal in the past.