Rafael Nadal: What Rafa Must Do to Capture Wimbledon 2012 Title

Kevin PacelliCorrespondent IJune 24, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Rafael Nadal of Spain with coach and uncle Toni Nadal in a practice session during previews for the Wimbledon Championships 2012 at Wimbledon on June 24, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The Djokovic-Nadal rivalry had been dominated by the Serb for all of 2011 and into 2012. That has started to change recently, though, and the Spaniard would love to capitalize on this shift.

Until the clay season of this year, it had appeared that the Djokovic problem was simply too difficult for Nadal to handle; no matter how hard he tried, he could not take down the current World No. 1. However, the clay courts evidently brought a sense of comfort for Rafa this season, and he took hold of all three of their 2012 encounters on the surface.

Now the clay season has ended, and the world is watching to see how the next phase of the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry will play out. And we can be certain that if Rafa takes this year's Wimbledon title, he will have the leg up on his opponent.

So what does he need to do to ensure victory and consequently take command of the rivalry? It's definitely going to need to come from early on in the tournament.

What Rafa cannot afford to do is let his shocking loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round of the Gerry Weber Open get to him. If that does happen, he will be starting off with a mental game that is slightly less stable than usual, and with that, anything is possible.

More importantly than just avoiding defeat in the early rounds of London play will be establishing the kind of momentum that he found quickly in Roland Garros. In this year's French Open, he rolled past his opponents in typical dominant fashion, winning every set until the final, where he dropped one to Djokovic. It was that momentum, established so early on, that brought him to his seventh French Open title.

If Nadal can bounce back quickly from what his fans are hoping was a fluke in the Gerry Weber Open, as well as come out strong and dominant on the grassy courts of London, it will be hard for any opponent to take him down. His first few rounds of Wimbledon play will definitely be a good indicator of his chances for the title.