Rafael Nadal admits he should not have played Wimbledon last year but insists he is ready this time as he gears up for another assault on the title.
Spain’s two-time champion suffered the most surprising defeat of his career in the second round 12 months ago when he was knocked out by the then world No.100 Lukas Rosol. Nadal declined to blame physical issues at the time but pulled out of the Olympics citing knee problems. He did not play again for seven months, missing the US and Australian Opens before returning at a small tournament in Chile in February. He has won seven of the nine tournaments he has played since returning to the tour.
He said: “Last year I played here because it is a tournament that I love, but I was not ready to play here. After Roland Garros, I felt that my knee was not there anymore. I tried my best. I don’t have anything to learn from that match because it’s not an excuse. Rosol played a fantastic fifth set. He probably would have beat me if I was healthy.”
For Nadal, there is no sense of wanting to make up for the disappointment of 12 months ago, only good feelings that this year he has arrived in SW19 healthy.
The 27-year-old said: “When you are coming back from a situation that I did, after being injured for seven months, it’s true that you come with a special feeling, very fresh, a special motivation, because you feel that you lost a year for things that you cannot control.
“That really motivates me. But a loss is nothing special. I just accept that that’s the sport. You lose and you win.”
Nadal’s form since returning to the sport has been sensational, reaching the final of every tournament he has contested and landing an eighth French Open.