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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic warm up for Wimbledon with comfortable exhibition wins

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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic prepare for Wimbledon with comfortable exhibition victories – Pennsylvania
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic prepare for Wimbledon with comfortable exhibition victories – Pennsylvania

As the Hurlingham Club host a group of retired tour ‘legends’ this week, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic arrive to show how they continue to beat young tennis players.

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The 35-year-old Djokovic started his grass court season by defeating Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime under the scorching sun at an exhibition event in west London. It was the first visit of the 20-time world champion Djokovic to the Hurlingham club and the first match since the quarter-finals of the French Open. which he lost to Nadal.

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Until that moment, he refused to play on grass. Like the 36-year-old Nadal, he is gradually returning to the surface without any competitive warm-up before Wimbledon. But the evidence suggests that, as always, the reigning Wimbledon champion remains a natural. Djokovic’s 6-2, 6-1 victory over the 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who struggled with his serve, was extremely easy.

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For Nadal, the most important thing was that he had no problems with his right foot during an easy victory over Stan Wawrinka. Considering that he required painkiller injections in the leg and lots of anti-inflammatories just to play painlessly at the French Open, it’s a huge win that he’s back here at all.

He revealed last week that he was fully committed to playing at Wimbledon and looked in high spirits as he played a weekend golf tournament in which he finished fifth in his native Mallorca. Although he used the golf buggy to get as much leg rest as possible, it all pointed to good signs ahead of his return to the playing field on Wednesday.

“Honestly, it’s nice for me to play a couple of matches before the start of Wimbledon,” said Nadal. “I used to play for the Queens a long time ago. I got older – I won’t have time to play so many matches! So it’s ideal for me to play a couple of matches here before the start of Wimbledon. It helps me feel some competition before Wimbledon.”

This week, Nadal and Djokovic trained at the Wimbledon grounds, along with two-time US Open champion Andy Murray and Emma Radukanu, who are recovering from stomach injuries.

Novak Djokovic beats Felix Auger-Aliassime - GETTY IMAGES
Novak Djokovic beats Felix Auger-Aliassime – GETTY IMAGES

But on Thursday, for the first time in its history, Wimbledon will open Center Court and Court No. 1, where players can practice before the tournament. Usually members of the All England Club do not play them for more than one set on the Saturday before the start of the championship.

However, this year the decision was made to play on the courts to avoid high-profile injuries caused by players slipping on the lush grass in the first few days of the tournament.

Last year, seven-time champion Serena Williams fell during her first round match and a hamstring injury kept her out of competition for 51 weeks.

Two 45-minute practice sessions on the show courts are scheduled for Thursday, with the biggest names in the city expected to have a chance to get comfortable with the surface before the rest of the draw. They will be open for selected training both today and on Friday, when the draw will also take place.

Ahead of the tournament, Wawrinka said that Nadal, despite all his injury problems, should be the favorite. “I don’t know how he feels, he seems to be a normal Rafa,” Wawrinka said. “He said that he feels better, and if he plays, he is ready to play with all his might and win.

“I think Rafa is going to be one of the favourites, if not the favourite, every time he enters a Grand Slam. He won the first two tournaments of the year without too many matches leading up to those Grand Slams, so he’s gained a lot of confidence, so of course he’s one of the favourites.”



Source: sports.yahoo.com

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