Wimbledon 2012 Day 2 Preview: Rafael Nadal vs Thomaz Bellucci

Shane LambertAnalyst IIJune 25, 2012

NadalJulian Finney/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal will open his Wimbledon 2012 campaign on Tuesday, facing Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in a first-round match.

Bellucci enters the match as the 80th ranked player in the world. He has not enjoyed much success on grass in the past, as clay is typically his best surface.

Nadal and Bellucci have met twice before, with both matches coming from Roland Garros. Each time, Nadal defeated Bellucci in straight sets, and few are expecting anything different on Day 2.

For example, Stan James has Nadal priced at -400 (1/4) to win 3-0 in what is the second match of the day scheduled for Centre Court at the All England Club.

There is nothing in Bellucci's recent history that would suggest that he has much of a chance against Nadal. The Brazilian is a lackluster 12-12 on the season and he has recent losses to players ranked well outside of the Top 10 on tour in Viktor Troicki and Mikhail Youzhny.

Bellucci did not enter into any of the grass court events that preceded Wimbledon this season and, in fact, he has not played a competitive match on grass since Wimbledon 2011, when he lost to Rainier Schuettler in the first round, a result that might actually prove to be the German's final Grand Slam singles victory.

Nadal's grass court season so far has featured just two matches, and one of those was a loss to Phillip Kohlschreiber at Halle.

Some casual tennis fans might think that the result hints at poor form, but really, there's nothing unusual about Nadal coughing up a loss to weaker player in a 250-level grass court event. He's done just that many times, including in 2010, when he lost to Feliciano Lopez at Queen's Club and then went on to regain the Wimbledon title.

The Spaniard promises to be concise with Bellucci, a player who may very well be dreading the match, as he's not been at his best in quite some time.

That said, even when he was playing better tennis, he never scored a win over a Top 10 player in a Grand Slam tournament.

Prediction: Nadal 3-0