Rafael Nadal backed for Wimbledon glory by Stan Wawrinka after winning return to grass at Hurlingham Club

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Rafael Nadal backed for Wimbledon glory by Stan Wawrinka after winning return to grass at Hurlingham Club
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Rafael Nadal returned to a grass court for the first time in three years yesterday and his beaten opponent at the Hurlingham Club, Stan Wawrinka, was left in no doubt about his ability to add a third straight Grand Slam at Wimbledon.

The Spaniard won the Australian and French Opens back-to-back for the first time this year and a win at Wimbledon, where the main draw starts on Monday, will take him a step closer to becoming the first man to win all four majors in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.

Nadal has been struggling with a foot injury and had pain-killing injections prior to each match at Roland Garros. The 36-year-old, who has won a record 22 Grand Slam singles titles, underwent nerve treatment after his French Open victory and said the pain had subsided.

Wawrinka said: “Playing Rafa is always difficult, he is in full confidence right now. He looks like normal Rafa.

“He has been saying he is feeling better and if he is playing, he is ready to play his best and to win. Any time he enters a Grand Slam he will be one of the favourites, if not the favourite. He won the first two Slams of the year without too many matches before those, so of course he is part of the favourites.”

Nadal, who had not played a competitive match on grass since 2019, beat Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3.

The Spaniard said: “I haven’t been able to play on grass through the tough moments we went through with the pandemic and last year I got injured.

“I am older now — I can’t manage to play so many matches. It is perfect to play a couple of matches here before Wimbledon starts.”

Novak Djokovic also played at the Hurlingham Club, defeating Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 6-1.

At Eastbourne today, Ryan Peniston is due to complete his match against Pedro Martinez that was suspended with the Briton 3-2 up on serve in the final set.

The winner is due to play Jack Draper in the quarter-finals, with fellow Brit Cameron Norrie taking on Maxime Cressy and Harriet Dart playing Petra Kvitova in the women’s draw.

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