Nadal back in the spotlight at Queen's
Rafael Nadal will be firmly in the spotlight at Queen's Club this week as the Spaniard begins his preparations for the defence of his Wimbledon title.sports Updated: Jun 05, 2011 12:13 IST
Rafael Nadal will be firmly in the spotlight at Queen's Club this week as the Spaniard begins his preparations for the defence of his Wimbledon title.
Nadal will hardly have a chance to brush Roland Garros's red clay off his shoes before he steps out onto the lush lawns of west London at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event which starts on Monday.
The result of Nadal's latest French Open final showdown with Roger Federer on Sunday will clearly have a major bearing on his mood at the start of the grass-court season.
But, whatever happens in Paris, Nadal's path to a second Queen's title was made easier before the 25-year-old even boarded the Eurostar train to England.
World number two Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the event due to the mental and physical scars left by his French Open semi-final defeat against Roger Federer on Friday, while British number one Andy Murray could also opt out as he rests ankle and groin injuries.
Djokovic, who reached the Queen's final in 2008, would have posed a major threat to Nadal even though his superb run of 41 successive victories from the start of this year was ended by Federer.
"I am very disappointed that I will not be playing in the Championships at the Queen's Club this year," Djokovic said. "It is a great event, I wish the organisers and the fans a fantastic week of tennis and I hope I will be back next year."
Nadal, who defeated Murray in three tough sets in the French Open semi-finals on Friday, believes the Scot will be a serious contender on grass this year.
"Right now is the start of grass for him," Nadal said. "I think he's a good player on grass, and especially on hard later he will have very good chances to have a fantastic year."
But even if Murray does decide to play, the 2009 champion is unlikely to be in peak form at Queen's as he tries to avoid aggravating his injuries ahead of the start of Wimbledon later this month.
Murray said, "I'll see my physio and talk about the best thing to do. If staying on the anti-inflammatories and the painkillers is right, then I could easily be on the practice court.
"But if it's best to get off them for a few days, see how everything is really feeling, I might have to take a couple days off and see."
American Mardy Fish, beaten by compatriot Sam Querrey in last year's Queen's final, has also been forced out by an abdominal injury, while resurgent Frenchman Richard Gasquet misses the tournament because of a leg problem.
There are still a few other dangers lurking for two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal.
America's Andy Roddick will be looking for a record fifth Queen's title, while 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo Wilfried Tsonga are also competing.