Wimbledon 2012: Nadal's Favorable Draw Sets Up Sixth Straight Trip to Finals
Rafael Nadal had advanced to the finals at Wimbledon the last five times in which he's participated at the All England Tennis Club, and if the men's draw released Friday is any indication, the stage has been set for a sixth straight final-round appearance for the 26-year-old Spaniard.
Fresh off a four-set victory over Novak Djokovic in the finals of the French Open two weeks ago, Nadal rolls into London brimming with confidence.
That confidence received a boost with the release of the men's draw, as, just as in Paris, Nadal will not have to face either the top-seeded Djokovic of third-seeded Roger Federer until the men's final.
Those aren't the only reasons why Nadal should feel good about his chances of advancing to the finals in pursuit of his third Wimbledon title. According to The Washington Post, either Nadal or Djokovic has won each of the past nine Grand Slam tournaments and the pair have met in the final round of the last four.
This budding rivalry is reminiscent of the rivalry between Nadal and Federer that dominated men's tennis for several years until Djokovic's ascension to the top of the tennis world.
However, as The Brisbane Times recently reported, Nadal told the The London Sunday Mail that he's not prepared to put the former rivalry over the latter just yet.
We have played four grand slam finals and an Olympic semi-final, too, but with Roger there have been even more important matches. He is probably the greatest player in history, and Novak is a fantastic player too. Last year he had one of the most amazing seasons in the history of tennis.
The only Grand Slam stumbling blocks in Djokovic's dominance over the past two years have been losses to Federer and Nadal in the past two French Opens. With that said, the tables were turned last year at Wimbledon, with Djokovic dispatching Nadal in four sets en route to his first Wimbledon championship.
This year's draw would appear to be propelling the two men towards a rematch. Djokovic will still have to get past Federer, who may be past his prime, but is still a very dangerous and talented player—especially on grass.
The road to the finals seems much less bumpy for Nadal, whose main threat likely lies in fourth seed Andy Murray. The Scotsman will no doubt have the support of the crowd at Wimbledon, but the 25-year-old three-time Grand Slam tournament finalist has struggled mightily in his career against Nadal, winning only five times in 18 tries.
So, it would certainly appear that Rafael Nadal is set for a long run at Wimbledon, which should make for a very busy summer in the UK for the Spaniard.
After Wimbledon, Nadal will prepare to carry the flag for his nation at the opening ceremonies of next month's 2012 Olympic Games, an honor that Nadal called one of the highlights of his career, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.
"For me the chance to carry the flag representing all the Spanish athletes in London is a true honor," Nadal said in a statement. "I think carrying the flag will be one of the most moving moments of my entire career."
With any luck, that honor will come on the heels of another, with Nadal leading Spain into the Olympics on the heels of his 12th Grand Slam tournament title.
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