LONDON: Rafael Nadal insists his shock defeat in the first round at Queen’s Club will not damage his chances of a strong challenge for the Wimbledon title.
Nadal’s disappointing 2015 campaign suffered another setback on Tuesday when the 14-time Grand Slam winner was dumped out of the Wimbledon warm-up event by unheralded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
After the bitter blow of falling to only the second French Open defeat of his glittering career, Nadal looked to be slowly getting back on track when he won the Stuttgart tournament last week.
But the 29-year-old’s 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 defeat against world number 79 Dolgopolov in west London shattered his hopes of improving his ranking in time for his latest bid for a third title at Wimbledon, which gets under way later this month.
“I prefer to win all the matches of the year. Not just before Wimbledon,” said Nadal. “I won a tournament last week and this week I lost an opportunity. I’m not happy I lost a match I had a chance to win, but that’s it.”
Nadal’s loss to Dolgopolov was his second worst of the year in terms of the lowly ranking of his opponent. Michael Berrer, the German world number 127, is the only lower ranked player to have beaten Nadal in 2015 — in the Spaniard’s first match of the year in Doha in January.
Nadal knows he will need to raise his game to improve on his recent struggles at the All England Club, where he hasn’t been past the fourth round in his last three visits. “I’m going to come back strong with a good week of practice before Wimbledon and I hope to be 100 per cent ready to play there,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2015.