Rafael Nadal’s transition to grass has not gone as smoothly as he would have hoped, after he claimed his record seventh French title on clay earlier this month. The Spaniard chose to play in the Halle Open in Germany along with Federer, rather than appearing at Queen’s club in London. Nadal started the tournament well, with a relatively easy 7-5, 6-1 win over Slovakian Lukas Lacko.
“At the beginning, it was more difficult to return,” said Nadal. “I tried to put more balls inside, trying to return with a bit of slice. That put me into a bit more of a rhythm.” Despite claiming the victory, he didn’t seem entirely comfortable, and added “every match here is very dangerous after playing on clay for 2-1/2 half months”.
This comment proved accurate as the world number 2 fell in his quarter final match to the defending champion Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German player beat Nadal 6-3, 6-4 for the first time in his career, having lost all 8 of their previous encounters, although this was the first match between the pair that was played on grass. Kohlschreiber then went on to lose to his compatriot Tommy Haas in the semifinals, and it was Haas who eventually triumphed over Federer in the final.
Nadal would have been hoping for a better start to the grass season, but he’d had only 4 days to relax and adjust his game after his hard-fought match against Djokovic in the rain-delayed final of the French Open. The Spaniard is now competing at Wimbledon, and he will have spent the week before the Grand Slam busily working on grass court tactics and shots – very different to his favourite clay court game of high bounces and massive top spin. He is looking to secure his third title at Wimbledon but must get past a few tough opponents before even thinking about the possibility of facing Djokovic yet again in a Grand Slam final.