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Rafa Nadal has won his first Wimbledon match in three years after defeating Francisco Cerundolo in the first round, but the Spaniard made a candid admission about his grass court preparation.
Nadal didn't have it all his way as Cerundolo pushed the Spaniard and won the third set.
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However, the 22-time grand slam champion raised his level to claim the victory 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Nadal was thrilled to have won on his return to Wimbledon and praised his opponent for pushing him.
While happy to advance, Nadal also admitted he was cautious going into the first round after a lacklustre preparation for SW19.
After undergoing some treatment for his foot injury after claiming his 14th French Open title, the 35-year-old didn't play a grass court tournament in the build-up to Wimbledon.
Nadal was granted the opportunity to play a number of exhibition matches ahead of Wimbledon.
However, in his post-match interview, Nadal admitted concern heading into his first Wimbledon in three years.
“All credit to Fran. I think he started to play well and he was a very tough opponent," Nadal said in his on-court interview afterwards.
"Having not played here for three years [it was difficult], but it’s great to be back. It’s always amazing to play on [Centre] Court.
"It’s not a surface we play on often; especially in my case, for different reasons. The last three years I didn’t [set] foot on a grass court. It’s taken a while; every day is a test, and today was one of th[ose] important tests. Especially considering the physical state I arrived in, the victory allows me to train tomorrow with another match in two days.”
“It’s obvious that when you play well at Roland-Garros there isn’t much time between [the two tournaments].
"I used to remember the beautiful days where I’d win Roland-Garros one day and the next I’d be practicing at Queen’s, but my body is not allowing me to [anymore].
"The most important thing for me is that I am at Wimbledon 2022 and I have won my first match.”
Rafa Nadal pleased with Wimbledon return
Nadal admitted he struggled with the conditions at time, but overall was pleased.
"I was more or less under control with two sets and one break up. But then the sun was crazy there," Nadal said.
"For a righty probably it is not a problem, but for a lefty where the sun is ... I was losing the ball completely."
Nadal, playing his first match since winning at Roland Garros, added: "I spent a long time on court. I really hope that will help".
"I need to keep improving things. But at the end of the match I improved. At the most critical moment, I think I raised my level. That's a very positive thing."
Nadal's victory keeps the challenging calendar grand slam feat alive.
Only Australian legend Laver, in 1962 and 1969, and American Don Budge in 1938, have ever completed a men's singles calendar-year grand slam.
The feat has even eluded Serena Williams, being last done in the women's singles by Steffi Graf in 1988.
Nada's side of the draw has opened up after Marin Cilic - who has been in great form and a former Wimbledon finalist - withdrew due to Covid-19.
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