Nadal has arrived in Stuttgart: “It will be a big challenge!”

Rafael Nadal practiced on centre court on Sunday

STUTTGART, June 06, 2015

Rafael Nadal has returned to Stuttgart’s Mercedes Cup on Sunday. The 14-time-Grand Slam Champion, who dropped in the ATP Rankings to tenth position, following his quarterfinals loss to Novak Djokovic at the French Open, receives a bye in the first round facing the winner of Marcos Baghdatis and Lukas Rosol in his opening match.

“I am happy to be back in Stuttgart. I have good memories with this tournament and great success in the past. Now it’s on grass and the courts are great. I had the chance to play on centre court yesterday and it is in great shape. Congrats to all the people, who made this possible,” Nadal told on Monday. The former world number one had a practice session with Feliciano López. The two Spaniards will also team up in the doubles draw.

“I have the opportunity to play two weeks before Wimbledon this year. I hope that will help me. I had some good results on this surface in the past and I try to be ready, having success again. The draw is very tough with a lot of good players, also playing well on grass. It will be a big challenge,” Nadal said and hopes to get back on the track to success after he had to suffer some disappointing results in the last couple of weeks.

“I want to win as many matches as possible. Last month was better. Since then, I have been able to enjoy my tennis again. Now I am here and Paris is history. Novak was better than me and I have to work hard to improve my level. If I am able to do so, I am confident, that I can my show my best tennis again,” the 29-year-old told but does not think about claiming the title here Stuttgart. “The first week on grass after one year without playing on this surface is always hard but I will give my very best,” Nadal explained and there is also a special prize awaiting the tournament’s champion.

“It’s great to have a car for the winner. I was lucky winning this great prize twice, which is a special feeling when you receive a present like this. Continuing this tradition here in Stuttgart is something special for the tournament. This is a great thing. Not a lot of tournaments on the tour have this kind of extra,” the Mercedes Cup champion from 2005 and 2007 said.

Rafael Nadal practiced on centre court on Sunday

Rafael Nadal practiced on centre court on Sunday

Due to rain only one first round match could be played on Monday. Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated Alexander Dolgopolov, winning 6-3, 6-3. The 31-year-old German won 91% of his first service points to seal victory in only 53 minutes. “I am happy but it was difficult to play, as the conditions switched. In the last couple of days we had about 30 degrees Celsius and today was totally different. The balls bounced in a different way and it was also a bit slippery on the court today. I needed to be focussed at every point,” told Kohschreiber and will face the winner of the match between Jerzy Janowicz and qualifier Dustin Brown in the next round.

Radek Stepanek was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to back injury. This also means that Tommy Haas is losing his partner for the doubles competition and the pair has to be replaced by an alternate team facing Nadal and López in the opening round.