Rafael Nadal now favourite for Wimbledon with Roger Federer, says Mats Wilander

Mats Wilander believes Rafael Nadal's tenth French Open triumph will send the Spaniard into Wimbledon next month as a favourite for the title alongside Switzerland's Roger Federer. Nadal has won Wimbledon twice but not since 2010.

By: Reuters | Paris | Published: June 12, 2017 12:07 am
Rafael Nadal dropped only 35 games en route to the title and getting a 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over Stan Wawrinka in the final. (Source: AP)

Rafa Nadal’s 10th French Open triumph will send the Spaniard into Wimbledon next month as a favourite for the title alongside Roger Federer, Mats Wilander told Reuters on Sunday. Nadal returned to his brutal best at Roland Garros this year, dropping only 35 games en route to the title and getting a 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over Stan Wawrinka in the final.

Not only did the victory give Nadal a professional-era record of 10 titles at the same slam it restarted his grand slam collection after three years without a major.

Wilander thinks the 31-year-old Spaniard could now go on a roll.

“Absolutely he is one of the main favourites now for Wimbledon,” three-times French Open champion Wilander, hosting Eurosport’s flagship “Game Set and Mats” programme in Paris, said as he digested Nadal’s return to his Roland Garros throne.

“He has taken confidence away from Wawrinka, from (Andy) Murray, even though he didn’t play him. And Roger Federer is a very happy man that he didn’t come to the French because his confidence has not been dented.

“Nadal has changed his game and he is playing way more aggressive, closer to the baseline, it’s a different Nadal.

“He’ll go to Wimbledon with so much confidence. For me he’s favourite with Federer but Federer won’t have the confidence of coming in as French Open champion.”

Nadal has won Wimbledon twice but not since 2010 when he beat Tomas Berdych. Injury problems to his knees and wrist have stalled his collection of major silverware which now stands at 15 — second on the all-time list behind Federer’s 18.

Wilander believes time away from the court after finishing last year early has helped the Mallorcan to return to his formidable physical peak.

“Tennis players don’t need to hit that many tennis balls but when they have a chance to get in the gym and work on the lower body and core that’s what helps. Nadal’s flying on the court and that gives him that extra confidence.

“I’m not that interested in the numbers…10, 11 or nine. But what this title has done is restart his campaign. He hadn’t won a slam in years. Now he’s going to be thinking going into the next three slams Novak (Djokovic) held all four.

“Rafa could arrive here next year in May with 18.”

Wilander said Nadal’s resurgence since pulling out of the French Open last year with a wrist injury — he also reached the Australian Open final and is back at number two in the rankings — is down to former world number one Carlos Moya joining his team.

“I never agreed with people who said Rafa should stop working with Toni (Nadal), but having his friend Carlos there and Francisco Roig means that they talk to Toni and give some new ideas and then Rafa trusts the plan.

“There has been a clear change since Carlos came in.”

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  1. William Price
    Aug 15, 2017 at 10:36 pm
    mats, great tennis player with a lot of heart, you cannot admit that Rafa is no. 2 all-time, not no. 1, roger is.
    1. Anthonio Pozo
      Jun 12, 2017 at 2:17 pm
      I actually get what Mats is saying. This year marks the resurgence of Rafa's tennis career. I believe Rafa can win multiple slams this year like he did in 2008 and 2010. I personally think Rafa plays smarter and more efficient tennis this year. He even has a better form than 2008. Rafa is definitely one of the favorites at Wimbledon.
      1. Jake Gittes
        Jun 12, 2017 at 10:08 am
        Can't understand where Nadal could possibly be considered a favorite at Wimbledon. He hasn't made it past the 4th round in 5 years. In fact, since 2010 he's won one 1 major that wasn't pla at Roland Garros. 1 in 7 years or 1 since he turned 24. Sure, he's had opportunities, like the 2011 wimbledon championships, 2017 Aussie Open, but lost them all. So there's nothing in his post-25 y.o. career that suggests he's the favorite at a tournament he hasn't been compe ive at since 2011. Murray would have to be very much the favorite with Novak's collapse, Federer's advanced age, and Thiem"s lack of guts and experience. Who knows though, if Nadal plays through a weak field and Murray gets ousted by a head case like Kyrgios, maybe it's possible. But theres no way he's a favorite. But in reality his MO over the last several years has been to come up lame in some way after the clay court season.
        1. C
          Chris from Germany
          Jun 12, 2017 at 5:33 am
          With all respect Mr. Wilander, but did u check what Nadal did in Wimbledon since 2011? 2012 -> 2R def vs Rosol 2013 -> 1R def vs Darcis 2014 -> 4R def vs. Kyrgios 2015 -> 2R def vs. Brown 2016 -> did not compete The balls in Wimbledon were slow for gr between 2005 and 2011, and that s when Nadal reached the final 5 times and winning 2 of it. Since 2012 it has become faster again and since then it was Nadal´s worsest G Slam Tournament. I don t unterstand why he is now the to favorite? He won the French in 2012, 2013 and 2014, even the USO in 2013 as well, but since they speed up Wimbledon again he lost to many different people. If Fed plays like he did in the first 3 months of this year, he should take it (Winning AO, Indian Wells, Miami, beating Nadal in 3 of 3 matches).
          1. D
            Jun 12, 2017 at 9:00 am
            have u lost it....nadal is absolute favourite.... nd still he is far ahead of federer in H2H...nadal would have won Australia..... he was a break ahead in 5th set.......nd how much Roland garros federer had won...only 1 .....that too when nadal was not there.....but nadal had beaten federer in Wimbledon final....so plz.....think before u speak
            1. Snow Attitudes
              Jun 12, 2017 at 10:38 am
              Federer is very smart. When I watched Federer's demolition of Nadal in AO and sunshine double, Federer already notice Nadal's strength on clay. Having said that if Novak got the opportunity to play Federer, he will bounce back stronger. Federer is like a switch to Novak greatness. For me, all players in top 15 are big favorites. Apart from the big 4, Wawrinka, Zverev, Thiem, and Dimitrov must be counted. Clay is more physical than gr that demands super skills at high speed.
              1. O ESP
                Jun 12, 2017 at 11:45 am
                you're the one who should think. what does H2H have to do with wimbledon when most of those wins came on clay court? if anything, roger now have slight advantage having won the past 4 meetings with nadal. you bring back AO, which nadal could have won it, but he didn't, did he? how many roland garros did roger won? yes 1, but only because of nadal's greatness on clay, which again has nothing to do with wimbledon which is on grass. nadal is in great form, but so is roger (who is also well rested). i'm not saying nadal can't win wimbledon but his past 5 performance there speaks for itself and is something to consider. nadal won FO in 2012, 2013, 2014, reach QF in 2015 but lost on the early rounds at wimbledon as mentioned above, and he lost to lower ranked, unknown players. but since both andy novak are still on a slump halfway through the season and if nadal's body can hold on (nadal himself acknowledge it) he can make a good run, but cal him the favorite? i wouldn't bet on it.
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