RAFA NADAL made a successful start to his first game on grass in three years – but it was a difficult task at Wimbledon 2022.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, 36, was led in four sets by brave Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo in the first round on day two of the championship.
Cerundolo, 23, a fighter from Buenos Aires, made his debut in the event and still could have secured a fifth set after suffering a break of serve in the fourth set.
Nadal, who ended up winning 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, had not played at SW19 since losing to Swiss rival Roger Federer in the semifinals in 2019.
Still, he’s a man on a mission here, having won the Australian Open for a 14th time in January and the French Open earlier this month.
Nobody has contested the calendar slam in men’s tennis since the great Australian Rod Laver in 1969.
That goal came a step closer when Nadal advanced to the second round – he hasn’t lost in the first round of a Slam since the 2016 Australian Open.
Nadal, who is expected to beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the last 64, had a minor surgery on his left foot this month to ensure he can play in London.
Nadal said: “All credit goes to Fran, he started to play great, he was a very tough opponent.
“It’s been three years since we haven’t been here and played at this amazing place, so to play here at this pitch is amazing.
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“It’s not a surface that we play on very often, and in my case for different reasons.
“I haven’t set foot on grass for the past three years. It takes a while to get used to.
“It’s my first match, every day is a test. Especially under the circumstances in which I arrived here, victory is the most important thing.
“I can train tomorrow and play another game in two days, I’m happy with that.
“If you play well at Roland Garros, it is obvious that there is not much time in between.
“I remembered all those beautiful days playing Roland Garros and training at Queen’s the next day.
“My body doesn’t allow me to do that anymore. Nowadays I have to take time off at Roland Garros.
“Everyone knows I’ve done some things to my foot. The most important thing is that I’m in Wimbledon 2022 and I won the first match.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5659282/rafael-nadal-survives-scare-cerundolo-wimbledon/ Nadal survives the big scare in his first Wimbledon match in three years as he defeats Cerundolo to keep the Calendar Slam alive