Rafa Nadal Wimbledon

Rafa Nadal makes a ‘perfect’ grass return at Hurlingham

World number four Rafael Nadal has beaten three-time Major winner Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 in an exhibition game at the Hurlingham Classic in his first match on grass since 2019.

Nadal missed out on Wimbledon last year due to a chronic foot condition but looked in good shape in front of 1,300 spectators in Fulham, west London on Wednesday afternoon.

The Spanish veteran breezed past the former world number three Stan Wawrinka in his opening match at the Giorgio Armani Classic, as he looks to step up his preparations ahead of Wimbledon next week.

After winning historic titles at the Australian Open in January and the French Open earlier this month, Nadal will be looking to complete an illustrious Calendar Grand Slam – a feat that only Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) have achieved in the men’s singles.

Nadal will be aiming to capture a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title and his first title at the Summer Slam in 12 years.

Discussing his performance after a three year grass hiatus, Nadal said it was a “perfect” return to the surface and great preparation for Wimbledon.

“It has been a while without playing on grass.

“Since 2019 I haven’t been able to play on grass through the tough moments we went through with the pandemic and last year I got injured. So I am excited to be back where we are today. It has always been a pleasure playing here in Hurlingham. It is special to be back.

“Honestly for me it is positive to play a couple of matches before the competition starts at Wimbledon. I used to play at Queen’s a long time ago now.

“I am older now – I can’t manage to play so many matches. For me it is perfect to play a couple of matches here before Wimbledon starts. That helps me to feel at least some competition before Wimbledon.”

Stan Wawrinka, who has been given a Wimbledon wild card, also reflected on Nadal’s performance as he quipped that he was playing “normal Rafa” and did not feel he looked affected by his foot problem.

“I don’t know how he is feeling, it looks like normal Rafa.

“He has been saying he is feeling better and if he is playing he is ready to play his best and to win. I think Rafa any time he enters a Grand Slam is going to be one of the favourites if not the favourite.

“He won the first two Slams of the year without too many matches before those grand Slams so he got a lot of confidence so of course he is part of the favourites.”

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