Nadal will compete in Halle this week. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal is exhausted after his French Open triumph but still intends to compete at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.
There's little time for a turnaround for Rafa as he'll begin his Gerry Weber Open campaign a handful of days after Sunday's French Open final. It's likely that the Spaniard will be back in action on the German lawns on Wednesday, so any hopes of a lengthy slam celebration have no doubt been canned. So much for winning a 14th slam title and levelling Pete Sampras on the all-time leaderboard.
You could easily question Nadal's decision to compete in Halle, and when he was faced with the same issue last season he chose to withdraw from the Gerry Weber Open before he'd even reached the final at Roland Garros. One might assume that this decision spurred him on to take to the lawns in Halle this time around, as the tournament organisers would have grounds to be disgruntled if their star player had pulled out for two years straight.
There are other incentives for the Spaniard to compete in Germany, however. For a start, the tournament should give him more of a chance to adapt to the grass courts in time for Wimbledon 2014. He fell to a shock first round defeat at the All-England Club last season against Steve Darcis, who has remained under the radar ever since. A repeat of such a result would be a massive disappointment for Nadal and his fans.
Rafa elaborated on his decision on Sunday, shortly after overcoming Novak Djokovic in four sets, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4"
"I am going to Halle tomorrow," he vowed. "I want to try to play well again in Wimbledon. I'm healthy. That's the most important thing, I feel…For me, is a tournament I really love so much, so after the match of today and after how tired I am, after a little bit the back problem that I had during the whole tournament, is in a strong position to go to Halle."
"But I really feel that I have compromised with them to go there. I missed it last year. I don't want to miss it two years in a row. At the same time, is the right way to prepare Wimbledon. So I really want to do it and try my best there. We will see what's going on."
Nadal's expectations are grounded for the upcoming week. He claimed to be out of energy after winning the fourth set against Djokovic, and he also admitted that he's going to struggle to prepare properly for Halle in the limited time available, but that's not the full extent of his problems. He also explained to reporters that he's found it difficult to compete on grass since he injured his knee in 2012.
"Grass always was a little bit harder for me after the injury. I get injury here in 2012; I played 2012 Wimbledon with that injury. I never played a match after that Wimbledon. Last year I tried, but I was not enough ready to compete in Wimbledon. Let's see how is my feelings there this year, but it's very important tournament."