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Monday June 24, 2013

Spanish world No. 5 Nadal plagued by knee problems

LONDON: Rafael Nadal admitted yesterday that he blundered by playing Wimbledon last year, a decision which saw him crash out in the second round and left him on the sidelines for seven months.

The Spaniard was knocked out by Lukas Rosol, the Czech Republic player who was ranked 100 at the time, 12 months ago.

He went on to miss the Olympics and US and Australian Opens, but he has won seven titles in nine finals since his return to the tour in February.

That run was topped by his historic eighth French Open trophy earlier this month.

But the legacy of his shock exit at the All England Club last year still burns deep.

“Last year I played here because it is a tournament that I love, but I was not ready to play,” said Nadal.

“After Roland Garros I felt that my knee was not there anymore. After here I was not able to complete in one more tournament during the rest of the season.

“Rosol played a fantastic fifth set. He probably would beat me if I was healthy. That experience for me last year was too much.”

Nadal, 27, and now the holder of 12 Grand Slam titles, is only seeded five this year at Wimbledon which starts today.

But he has been placed in the same half of the draw as seven-time champion Roger Federer, the third seed, and Andy Murray, the second seed.

“The rankings say that these kind of things can happen,” said Nadal.

“So I know you are talking about Andy and Roger probably, but I don’t see them before quarter-finals and semi-finals.

“So I have a long way to work before that. I didn’t play a lot on grass last couple of years, so I really take care about myself and the first round.”

Nadal, who has a 43-2 winning record since his return, also admitted that he has yet to decide on his playing schedule for the rest of the year.

He even described 2013 as a “transitional year“.

“I will compete here as good as possible.

“I’m gonna try my best, then we will see what’s next for me,” he added.

“I haven’t completely decided my schedule after here, because I have to analyse a little bit more what’s more or less favourable for my future.”

Nadal will start his campaign for a third title when he faces experienced Belgian, Steve Darcis.— AFP

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