Nadal's quick shift from French Open to Wimbledon

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 9, 2014 at 9:44 am •  Published: June 9, 2014
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PARIS (AP) — His ninth French Open title behind him, Rafael Nadal already is thinking ahead to what's next: Wimbledon.

That's why he planned to waste no time and go directly from France to Germany on Monday to get ready to play in a grass-court tuneup tournament.

Nadal's collection of 14 Grand Slam titles, only three shy of Roger Federer's record for men, includes two championships at the All England Club. But the most recent came in 2010, and Nadal's past two trips to Wimbledon were quite brief: He lost in the second round in 2012, and the first round in 2013.

"I want to try to play well again in Wimbledon," the No. 1-ranked Nadal declared Sunday night after beating No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open final to improve to 66-1 at the clay-court tournament. "I'm healthy. That's the most important thing, I feel."

The big question about Nadal always was longevity, and whether his 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter), 188-pound (85-kilogram) body would hold up to the constant pounding from his relentless style.

Well, now he is the only man with at least one Grand Slam title in 10 consecutive years. And having turned 28 last week, the Spaniard is roughly two months older than Federer was when he got his 14th major.

But Nadal was slowed by a bad back during a loss in January's Australian Open final. Of more concern: his knees. He decided not to defend his Wimbledon title in 2009, then was sidelined for the last half of 2012 because of a problem with his left knee.

"I hope my knee will have the positive feeling on grass, because I feel my knee (is) better than last year in the rest of the surfaces," Nadal said. "Grass always was a little bit harder for me after the injury."

This part of the tennis schedule is unforgiving, allowing two weeks to adjust from clay to grass between the French Open and Wimbledon. That changes next year, when a third week gets added.

For now, there is time to contemplate story lines that will matter when Wimbledon starts June 23.

Djokovic, for example, will try to set aside his latest disappointment in Paris, coming up short again in his bid to complete a career Grand Slam. Djokovic has won six major titles — four at the Australian Open, plus one each at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open — but he has lost in the finals at three of the last four Slams.