Martina Navratilova described Rafael Nadal as a “prima donna” ahead of the Spaniard’s third-round Wimbledon clash with Lorenzo Sonego. The 36-year-old kept the Centre Court crowd waiting ahead of the match, leading Navratilova to make the remark to presenter Sue Barker.
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“We are awaiting Rafael Nadal, he is still in the locker room at the moment,” Barker said during the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon. “Rafa always makes us wait, doesn’t he?” Navratilova said. “He is such a prima donna!”
Nadal recently passed Navratilova on the list of most wins at The All England Club, as the Spaniard claimed his 307th during his second-round victory over Ricardas Berankis. “Congrats Rafa, and you are not done yet,” Navratilova tweeted in response to him joining her in fourth place behind Roger Federer at the top, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal’s side of the draw recently opened up following the Covid-related withdrawals of Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic, meaning he could face Djokovic in the Wimbledon final where Mats Wilander has explained how the playing surface at Centre Court would favour Nadal in the final.
“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.
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“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.”
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Winning Wimbledon this year, in perhaps his final season, would be some achievement for Nadal as he attempts to win the first Calendar Slam since Rod Laver in 1968 following victories at the Australian and French Opens already this year. However, the 22-time Grand Slam champion did admit that he came close to retiring before SW19 this year.
“My philosophy is couple of weeks ago I was close to it [retirement],” Nadal said. “Now I don’t feel that way (smiling). That’s my philosophy, no?
“It’s something that I am not — I never had fear about that day. I think I am happy that I had a very happy life outside of tennis, even if tennis is a very important part of my life for the last 30 years. I have been happy outside of tennis, without a doubt. I have a lot of things that I like to do away from tennis, so I am not worried about that. But, of course, when that day arrives, going to be a change.”