Rafael Nadal insists his shock defeat in the first round at Queen’s Club won’t damage his chances of a strong challenge for the Wimbledon title.
Nadal’s disappointing 2015 campaign suffered another setback on Tuesday when the 14-time grand slam winner was dumped out of the Wimbledon warm-up event by unheralded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
After the bitter blow of falling to only the second French Open defeat of his glittering career – to Novak Djokovic in the Paris quarter-finals – Nadal looked to be slowly getting back on track when he won the Stuttgart tournament last week.
But the 29-year-old’s 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 defeat against world No.79 Dolgopolov in west London shattered his hopes of improving his ranking – at a decade-low 10th – in time for his latest bid for a third title at Wimbledon, beginning in less than two weeks.
Nadal maintains he is happy he already has enough practice on grass and puts the loss down to the misfortune of facing an inspired opponent.
“I prefer to win all the matches. Not just before Wimbledon, I prefer to win all the matches of the year.
“But the year I won Wimbledon in 2008, I played five matches here and, this year, I already had five matches (on grass).
“It’s nothing very negative. I won a tournament last week and, this week, I lost an opportunity.
“But my feeling, my thoughts are no different today than yesterday. I’m playing better than before and enjoying being on court more than before.”
“Today was my turn. I accept that, and the good thing is I am positive mentally. I feel myself playing well.”
Nadal knows he will need to raise his game at Wimbledon after not going beyond the fourth round in his past three visits or reaching a grand slam semi-final since last year’s French Open.
“I’m going to try my best at Wimbledon. This was good motivation for me today.”
Unlike Nadal, three-time champion Andy Murray had no problems at Queen’s as he saw off Taiwanese qualifier Lu Yen-Hsun 6-4 7-5.
“I felt like I moved pretty well. I didn’t start serving so well. But I hit the ball well from the back of the court,” top seed Murray said.
“I’ve had good runs here. It’s an extremely strong field this year so I’ll have to play great tennis.”
French champion Stanislas Wawrinka triumphed 6-3 6-4 over Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios.
The Swiss second seed swept through in just 49 minutes to set up a second-round meeting with South African Kevin Anderson.
Another promising Australian, 19-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis, defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-4 to earn a clash with French seventh seed Gilles Simon, a three-set winner against Belgium’s David Goffin.
Defending Queen’s champion Grigor Dimitrov moved into the second round to face Gilles Muller, after a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory against 2010 winner Sam Querrey.