Rafael Nadal to play his first grass court tournament in THREE years… and he will face three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka at the Hurlingham Club as he steps up his preparations for Wimbledon
- Rafael Nadal has not competed on grass since playing at Wimbledon in 2019
- He is set to make his grass court return at the Hurlingham Club this week
- He is due to take on three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday
- Novak Djokovic will also be playing at the Hurlingham Club ahead of Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal confirmed on Monday that he will be back to play his first grass court event in three years when he formally signed up to play in Fulham this week.
The French Open king will take up a slot at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club on Wednesday afternoon, where his opponent will be Stan Wawrinka.
Novak Djokovic will also be playing after arriving in the UK at the weekend. The reigning SW19 champion will play a match against Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime.
22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal has not played a grass court match since 2019
He has stated that he will play on grass this year, and he will compete at the Hurlingham Club
Nadal’s first opponent at the Hurlingham Club will be Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka
Novak Djokovic will also be in action at the Hurlingham Club ahead of Wimbledon
Nadal was a major doubt for Wimbledon after his foot problems in Paris, and it is hard to believe that he has made the choice to attempt the grass unless he believes he has a genuine chance of winning at the All England Club. He could hardly have imagined back in January that he would be halfway to the calendar Grand Slam.
Another great, Serena Williams, will play her first competitive match for nearly a year on Tuesday with a warning that she will not find it easy to make an instant comeback.
The American legend, now 40, will combine with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the doubles at Eastbourne’s Rothesay International, her only warm-up for Wimbledon next week.
Yet the SW19 beaten finalist from last year, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, cautioned that returning with so little tennis behind her will be tough. Williams retired from her first round match at the All England Club in 2021 and has barely been seen since.
Serena Williams is due to play at Eastbourne after being sidelined for the past year
Karolina Pliskova thinks Williams could struggle after her lengthy absence from the tour
‘I don’t know how long it has been since she has played, has it been a year?’ asked Pliskova. ‘It is a long time and she is not the youngest any more so I suppose the body also takes some time to get back into shape.
‘Playing matches at tournaments is still very much different to just practising and she is just playing doubles.
‘I think it will be difficult, super difficult for her no matter which kind of player she is because this is a thing where you still need some time.
‘But of course she is an amazing player, she achieved so much. Still a number of players will be super scared to play her. This is her advantage but let’s see the level.’
Williams did not appear in a hurry to make up for lost time on Monday, and cancelled her Devonshire Park practice at short notice, but had been back on court over the weekend.