Clay court master Nadal gets turn to win on Wimbledon grass

WIMBLEDON, England &

At Wimbledon, it's Rafael Nadal's turn to try to make some history.

Only two weeks after beating top-ranked Roger Federer in a second straight French Open final, the Spaniard will get another chance to win a Grand Slam title away from Roland Garros.

"Clay, hard or on grass," the second-ranked Nadal said. "Every Grand Slam I would love to win in any surface."

Nadal reached the Wimbledon final last year but lost to Federer in four sets. The top-ranked Federer, who is trying to win his fifth straight title at the All England Club, opened the tournament by playing Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia today.

That match and all others were delayed by rain for about 2 hours, 40 minutes, before play got under way.

Andy Roddick, Tim Henman and Marat Safin also were to play today. On the women's side, two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams was scheduled to face Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, and French Open champion Justine Henin, third-ranked Jelena Jankovic and 1997 Wimbledon champion Martina Hingis also were expected to play.

Nadal, who faces Mardy Fish of the United States in the first round, acknowledges Federer is again the man to beat at Wimbledon, and part of the reason is because the 10-time Grand Slam champion gets to make the transition from clay to grass.

"Is difficult (to) adapt and change lot of things in just one week and a half," said Nadal, who played a warm-up tournament on grass at the Queen's Club but lost to Nicolas Mahut in the quarterfinals. "Is more difficult for me because if the change is to the other surface, for example, grass to clay in one week and a half, for me going to be easier, no, because clay is my surface."

If Nadal does win the title in two weeks, he'll be the first man to complete a French Open-Wimbledon double since Bjorn Borg in 1980. Borg, who did it four times, is also the last man to win five straight Wimbledon titles.

Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, doesn't worry much about making the transition to grass. Instead, it's her shoulder injury that keeps getting in the way.

"It's still not exactly where I want it to be. But I've said that in the last few weeks and I've been able to play good and steady," said Sharapova, who lost to Jankovic in the final of the DFS Classic last week and reached the semifinals at the French Open.

"My goal in Birmingham was to play as many matches as I can, and I did that," added Sharapova, who opens against Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan. "After playing that many matches in a couple days my shoulder held up well."

Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo will start her tournament against Jamea Jackson of the United States. The fourth-seeded Frenchwoman won two Grand Slam titles last year, but she missed nearly two months of action after having an appendectomy in March.

"We are probably, I don't know, four or five (who are) able to get the trophy this year," said Mauresmo, who lost in the third round at the French Open. "Yeah, I do consider myself part of these four or five."

Nadal is also confident of his chances to win the title.

"I know I'm not just a clay-court specialist," Nadal said. "If I am playing well, I can have good results in all surfaces. If I arrive to U.S. Open, for example, or here playing my best tennis, I'm going to have my best chances."

Share This Story