Rafael Nadal will launch a new attempt Tuesday in his quest to recapture form as he opens his campaign in Hamburg, a tournament he has not competed in since 2008.
Nadal, now ranked No10 in the world, has not played a clay tournament post-Wimbledon since 2007.
But the Spaniard is hoping he can regain some of his confidence with a successful showing on the clay courts of the ATP 500-level tournament this week before shifting his focus to the North American hard court swing leading up to next month’s US Open.
“I haven’t been here since 2008 (when it was a Masters 1000 played in May). It’s obvious that normally this time of the summer I take it to relax and to practise a little bit for the hard court season,” said Nadal.
“This year the situation is obviously a little bit different. I’ve been losing more than in the last 10 or 11 years. So I feel my body has asked me to be playing and I’m here.”
The top-seeded Spaniard faces a tricky opener on Tuesday against his countryman and fellow lefty Fernando Verdasco, who may have a 2-13 losing record against Nadal but has triumphed in their two most recent encounters in Miami last March and Madrid three years ago. Nadal has won just two titles this season at the lower-tiered events in Stuttgart and Buenos Aires, and will be playing his first singles match today since crashing out of the second round at Wimbledon at the hands of Germany’s Dustin Brown.
Asked how long it took him to get over that defeat to Brown, Nadal said: “It doesn’t matter how long it took me, at the end of the day it wasn’t an easy loss for me.
“A tough one because I felt that I did the right things to be ready for it, playing Stuttgart and Queen’s and having a positive week of preparation there before the tournament started. But I played bad in that match, I was not competitive enough to get through and I lost.
“The last six months I have been losing a little bit more than what I have been used to the last 11 years. So I just accept the new situations with the right attitude and keep working to try to be at a good level again. It’s been a tough one, obviously, but life continues.”
Australian Samantha Stosur beats Karin Knapp of Italy in three sets to win the WTA Tour's Gastein Ladies title.
Jelena Jankovic is starting to realise she may not be too bad on grass after all.
The former world No 1 shocked defending champion Petra Kvitova in the third round to make it to the second week for the first time since 2010. She did it by out-serving the powerful, left-handed, world No 2.
Against former runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska on Monday, she has a chance to reach the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the first time in her career – it is the only major where she hasn’t made the final eight before.
A quick look at the tournament stats shows Jankovic in joint second place on the aces leader board with 28 in three matches. She has huge servers like Kristyna Pliskova, Serena Williams and Coco Vandeweghe alongside her in that No 2 spot.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 4, 2015
For someone who has had major struggles with her serves in the past, Jankovic is surprised by how well she’s been serving so far.
“Is that for real?” Jankovic bursts into laughter when told of her aces statistic. “Someone told me. I’m like ‘when I step to that line to serve, I just focus on hitting my spots, holding my serve. I never think about those aces’.
“But I’m right there…unbelievable. Maybe my serve is not as fast as some of those big girls. But if I’m hitting my spots, it’s quite effective.
“My serve was so bad,” she adds between chuckles. “Back in the years, my serve was really, really – I don’t know how many years ago – but now I laugh when I see myself doing those serves.”
Jankovic, 30, is 2-5 against Radwanska head-to-head but they’ve never played on grass before. The Serb has struggled with injuries this season and barring her final showing at Indian Wells and semifinal at s-Hertogenbosch, has been unable to post consistent results.
She says she’s been healthy now and added: “To be honest, right now I’m not at the level I want to be at. First of all, physically I have to get a lot stronger, a lot faster. Getting injured, not being able to go to the gym, to spend some time on the practice court… I will need time to get to the form and level I want to be at, and where I can be. That’s what will satisfy my needs and wishes.
“So we’ll see. I always think I can do it. I’m not old. I’m still young at heart. I look pretty good, so why not? I mean, give me a break, guys. What’s old?”
No 4 seed Maria Sharapova will take on Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in the last 16. Sharapova, the 2004 champion here, has not dropped a set on her way to the second week and lost just 15 games in her first three matches.