Tennis: Nadal ready for a fight in grudge match with Lukas Rosol

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts to winning the second set in his men's singles tennis match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London on June 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts to winning the second set in his men's singles tennis match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London on June 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Rafael Nadal said on Tuesday he was gearing up for a fight against Lukas Rosol as he prepared to exact revenge on the man who knocked him out of Wimbledon two years ago.

The world number one accepted he risks being bundled out of the tournament again if he is not at the top of his game when he faces the Czech in Thursday’s rematch.

And the 14-time Grand Slam champion admitted that the shock defeat in 2012 still played on his mind.

Asked what he had learned from the loss – which was followed by last year’s first round defeat to the unheralded Steve Darcis – the Spaniard said: “I lost”.

“I lost because he’s a good player. He’s a player that can play very well on this surface. He’s an aggressive player. It will be a tough match again,” the 28-year-old said.

“I know if I want to have chances to win, I need to play very well. That’s what I going to try to do. If not, I don’t have the chance to be in the third round. But I am going to fight for it.

“Rosol is a very dangerous player, very strong, very powerful shots from the baseline and I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances to win.”

Rosol is ranked at 52 in the world and has a win-loss record of 13-15 this season, though he lost his first round match at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the grass warm-up tournament in the Netherlands.

“The important thing is to fight, play with the right tactic and wait for the luck,” said Nadal.

“What is past is past. What happened, happened. We don’t want to change that. The only way to try something is try to change what’s happening right now.”

Nadal entered the All England Club having not won a grass court match since the first round two years ago, before Rosol stopped him in his tracks in round two.

But the French Open champion got back to winning ways in his first round match this time, recovering from going a set down to beat Slovakia’s world number 51 Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on Centre Court.

“I am excited to be back here, to win again a match at Wimbledon, on the Centre Court. When you go on court and you lost last year in the first round, the year before in the second round, no, I’m not going to lie to anybody, sure, it stays in your mind,” said the two-time Wimbledon champion.

“But, in the end, it is a tennis match. And winning Roland Garros, you are able to go on court with a little bit less pressure than if you don’t win there, and that helps.”

It was Nadal’s 700th tour level match win. The Mallorcan is the 11th player in the Open Era to reach the milestone.

Nadal said he didn’t think playing the French Open on clay and then Wimbledon back to back was an overwhelming challenge for the top players.

“I don’t see a big difference of winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon because in the end if you’re in the final, you really make the same adjustment. You were able to play very well on grass, too,” he said.

“I was able to do that five times. Djokovic was able to play the final in Roland Garros or semi-finals and then win here.

“I don’t see that winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon is so difficult one tournament by itself.

“The real thing is you don’t have lot of time to prepare and to play matches on grass. But the best players were able to do it very well the last couple of years, the transition.”