Tennis world erupts over Rafa Nadal moment ahead of Wimbledon

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Rafael Nadal's return to the grass courts in England left fans excited ahead of Wimbledon. Pic: Getty
Rafael Nadal's return to the grass courts in England left fans excited ahead of Wimbledon. Pic: Getty

Rafael Nadal has brushed aside concerns around his chronic foot problem, with an encouraging return to the English grass courts, ahead of his quest for a 23rd grand slam title at Wimbledon.

Nadal's participation at the All England Club had been under a massive cloud until last week, following an admission from the Spaniard about his troublesome foot.

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The 36-year-old - who is set to become a father after confirming that wife Xisco Perello is pregnant - said after his French Open title triumph earlier this month that he had required pain-filling injections prior to each match.

Nadal suggested that he would not be willing to go through that again at other tournaments, but confirmed he was playing Wimbledon after revealing that the pain in his foot had eased.

Playing against three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka in an exhibition match before Wimbledon, Nadal showed no ill effects of the injury that had left fans fearing for his future.

The Spaniard downed Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 at the at the Hurlingham Club in south-west London, in what was his first match on grass since 2019.

Nadal raced into a 5-1 lead after twice breaking Wawrinka's serve in the opening set and sealed it 6-2 in 30 minutes.

Wawrinka, who returned to action in March after missing most of 2021 due to two foot operations, failed to convert a break point in the opening game of the second set and was soon 3-1 behind.

The Swiss three-time major winner broke Nadal's serve in the fifth game, but the Spaniard was rarely troubled and wrapped up the match in just over an hour.

Nadal announced at the end of last week that a procedure to reduce nerve pain in his foot had assisted his quest in gunning for a record-extending 23rd men's grand slam title at Wimbledon.

Unsurprisingly, his impressive return to the grass courts in England left fans giddy with excitement on social media.

Novak Djokovic impresses in Wimbledon tune-up

Nadal's great rival Novak Djokovic - playing in the same exhibition event - tuned up for Wimbledon with a 6-2 6-1 win against Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime.

In his first match since losing to Nadal in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, defending Wimbledon champion Djokovic was in impressive touch on the grass.

Six-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic was given a sterner challenge than the scoreline suggested against Auger-Aliassime.

Seen here, Novak Djokovic playing a forehand in his match against Felix Auger-Aliassime at The Hurlingham Club in London.
Novak Djokovic plays a forehand in his match against Felix Auger-Aliassime at The Hurlingham Club in London. Pic: Getty

The Serbian World No.3 broke the Canadian twice to take the first set 6-2 in 44 minutes.

Auger-Aliassime failed to trouble Djokovic's serve in the second set and was broken three more times as the former World No.1 wrapped it up 6-1 in 28 minutes.

with agencies

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