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Rafa reins in expectations

Rafael Nadal speaks to the media before Wimbledon
by Caroline Cheese
Saturday 23 June 2012

Most tennis players will tell you they aren't looking beyond the first round. Rafael Nadal doesn't even want to think past tomorrow's practice session.

A third Wimbledon title to follow his 2008 and 2010 triumphs would see Nadal reclaim the No.1 ranking, providing Novak Djokovic doesn't get past the quarter-finals.

The Spaniard is fresh from winning an historic seventh French Open title, beating Djokovic for the third time in a row, but he still scoffs at any talk of him winning Wimbledon.

"Thinking about winning another title here in Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy," said the 2008 and 2010 champion.

"That's something I cannot think about, no? I can just think about the practice of tomorrow, to keep preparing my game, to arrive to Tuesday with the right conditions, being competitive to try to win the first match, no?"

It might be for the best that Nadal isn't looking ahead.

He will open his quest for a third Wimbledon title on Tuesday against Thomaz Bellucci, a Brazilian he has beaten in their two previous meetings – both at Roland Garros.

Dark horse Tommy Haas or Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Nadal in Halle last week, could be waiting in the third round. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Feliciano Lopez also lurk in his quarter of the draw.

None of those players would be considered threats to Nadal on his favourite clay surface, but grass presents the 26-year-old with an altogether different challenge.

"The real thing of this surface, you see the draw, and you never see an easy opponent," he said.

"You have the feeling, for example, you play on clay and your match is in your hands.  If you are playing your game you will have good chances to be through.

"Here everything is a little bit more crazy, because sometimes you played two bad points in not the right moment and you lose a set."

For Nadal, though, the unpredictable nature of the surface seems to make him cherish it even more.

"I enjoy playing here. Brings something different to me," he said.

"Seriously, since the first time I came here (in juniors in 2002)... I always loved this place. I always loved this surface."

Reaching at least the final in his past five visits is testament to that. Just don't expect him to make any bold predictions about what might happen this year.

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