Rafael Nadal: A Complete Guide to Rafa's 2012 Wimbledon Campaign

Tim KeeneyContributor IJune 26, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Rafa Nadal of Spain participates in a practice session during previews to The Championships at Wimbledon on June 23, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

It's all tied up between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

No, they didn't somehow get matched up in the first round at Wimbledon, but they are at one major apiece in 2012 and the famous grass tournament is going to go a long way in determining who is No. 1.

Djokovic got his win at Australia, his best major. Nadal got his win at the French Open, where he is King. Now it's time to settle the score.

Oh yeah, and there's some pesky fellow named Roger who has won six Wimbledon titles and will be looking to break up this rivalry. 

One thing is sure: Wimbledon 2012 is not going to be easy for Rafael Nadal. Let's take a further look at the Spaniard as he attempts to establish himself as the No. 1 in the world. 


History at Wimbledon

Winning percentage-wise, Wimbledon has been Rafa's second-best major. He won in 2008 and 2010, but lost in the finals last year to Djokovic. Nonetheless, his record in London is an impressive 35-5. 

In fact, if you don't count 2009, when Nadal was hindered by knee injuries and was forced to withdraw, he has made the finals in his last five Wimbledon tournaments. 

Grass is much like clay in the fact that you need to be able to move well, and it's obvious that Nadal thrives in that aspect of the game.



En route to the quarterfinals, Nadal has a lot of potential upsets in his way. He better be careful. In the fourth round, he could face Feliciano Lopez or Alexandr Dolgopolov, while in the third he may face Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Nadal hasn't faced Dolgopolov all that much, but Lopez made it to the quarters at Wimbledon last year and actually beat Nadal back in 2010 during their only matchup on grass.

Meanwhile, after beating Kohlschreiber nine straight times (one withdraw) to start his career, Nadal lost to the German last week at the Gerry Weber Open.

Kohlschreiber has never been a threat at Wimbledon, but it would certainly be an intriguing rematch should it happen.

Once in the quarters, Nadal will likely see Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who last year beat Nadal in London at the AEGON Championships (grass) and made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon.

In the semifinals, it's probably Andy Murray, who Nadal has beat at Wimbledon thrice, including the last two years.

So, while Nadal is at the top of his game and will be incredibly tough to beat, the road to the finals isn't necessarily a cakewalk.


Potential Finals Matchup: Roger Federer

While Federer is one of the two best Wimbledon players of all time, he has struggled there the past two years, failing to get past the quarterfinals both times. 

Nonetheless, as long as Fed-Ex is healthy, he's always a huge threat in London. 

Seeing this finals matchup would be a welcomed sight, as Nadal and Federer haven't met at Wimbledon since Nadal won a five-set thriller in the finals of 2008. 

I'd be OK with seeing that again


Potential Finals Matchup: Novak Djokovic

Sure Nadal-Federer has the fantastic history, but Nadal and Djokovic are clearly the two best players in the world right now, so any other final will likely be a little disappointing. 

These two met in the finals at Wimbledon last year, and while Djokovic rolled to a fairly easy victory, that doesn't mean you should count Nadal out. As ESPN's Howard Bryant puts it, Nadal has the momentum in his favor.

But it didn't happen, and thus none of it matters, and because of victory, Nadal is now free and unhinged. Ridding himself of those psychological burdens during the clay season eases doubts, calms fears and increases confidence. It makes Nadal more dangerous than ever.

Nadal vs. Djokovic in the finals is as likely as ever this year at Wimbledon, and that matchup appears just as likely to far surpass the excitement of last year's dud final. I'll take Nadal in five sets.