FORMER world No1 Rafael Nadal has vowed to use his shock first-round exit to unseeded Alexandr Dolgopolov at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club yesterday as motivation for a tilt at Wimbledon redemption.
Fifth seed Nadal failed to convert a break in the final set and succumbed 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, as Dolgopolov claimed a second successive victory over the Spaniard and proceeded to a showdown with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round two.
Defeat dealt a major blow to 14-time grand slam champion Nadal, who is bidding to recover from the worst French Open of his career and a turbulent season which has seen the 29-year-old drop to 10th in the world rankings.
Nadal arrived in west London just days after securing his first grass-court title for five years at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart on Sunday, and maintains he is capable of wrestling the demons of a rocky campaign to thrive at Wimbledon.
“I’m going to come back strong and get a good week of training before Wimbledon and I hope to be 100 per cent fit to play at Wimbledon. Today was a good motivation for me,” said Nadal, who has not reached a quarter-final at the All England Club since 2011.
“The good thing is that I am positive mentally. I’m playing well and I hope to have some more good days of practice here and then some good days at home.”
Newly-crowned French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, meanwhile, was left unimpressed by the post-match assertion from Australia’s Nick Kyrgios that his performance levels were afflicted by illness.
Swiss second seed Wawrinka began his grass-court season by dispatching Kyrgios, who conquered Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, 6-3, 6-4 in just 49 minutes, and will now face South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.
“It doesn’t really surprise me,” said Wawrinka of Kyrgios. “When I read his interviews, it’s always funny.
“When I read before the match, he was ready, excited for the challenge, and now he is sick. So I’m just saying he’s saying a lot of things, and I think it’s always interesting as a player to read what he’s saying and how his mind is working.”