Rafael Nadal could meet Novak Djokovic in the final of Wimbledon, and Mats Wilander has told the Spaniard how he would have an advantage as the 37-year-old bids to claim the first Calendar Slam since Rod Laver in 1969. Nadal will attempt to join Djokovic in the fourth round on Saturday as he faces Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
Nadal has seen Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic drop out of his half of the draw due to positive Covid tests, making a path to the final easier where he could face Djokovic. Should the two meet at the SW19 final, Wilander believes the Centre Court surface will favour Nadal.
“It’s completely irrelevant what you look like and what you feel like after two matches because they are only going to play in the finals,” Wilander told Eurosport. “They are both going to get four more matches to get there.
“The court here at Wimbledon is going to be completely different if they play in the final. It’s going to be drier, worn out. It’s going to play out more like a clay court, so if they were to play today or Friday first week then yes, so far Djokovic has maybe looked a little bit better. But the longer the tournament goes the more the surface starts to favour Rafa Nadal.
“It doesn’t mean I think Nadal is going to beat Djokovic in the final necessarily but like I said before they are just winning matches and peak at the right time. So far they haven’t had to peak.”
Djokovic was in fine form on Friday as he defeated fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round. The 35-year-old has won the last three Wimbledon tournaments and while Wilander believes Nadal will have the surface in his favour, he certainly won’t rule Djokovic out of claiming a fourth consecutive title. I do believe he has a good chance,” Wilander added. “I think that he is clearly the best player on grass and has been for the last few years. He’s getting better every time I see him play.
“It’s more clear to him what he needs to do on the grass court, how he needs to move when he can slide to not slip and the way he has understood to move on a grass court.
“There’s a really good chance he reaches eight Wimbledon titles and that he ends up with the most Grand Slam titles out of all of them. But of course, a certain Rafa Nadal keeps surprising us.”
Djokovic will face Tim van Rijthoven in the round of 16, and the Dutchman sent the 20-time Grand Slam champion a warning ahead of their match. “I go into every match thinking I can win the match,” Van Rijthoven said. Also against Djokovic I’ll go into that match thinking I can win that match.”