Rafael Nadal, now ranked 10 in the world, is usually the first to frantically attempt to make the clay-to-grass transition in order to prove that he isn’t a one-surface wonder. He has done that many times, quickly transitioning from a record-breaking clay season to grass in no time, mostly by winning or performing well at the AEGON Championships at Queens Club London—one of the two traditional warm-up grass-court tournaments leading up to Wimbledon.
The other is the Gerry Weber Open at Halle, which usually sees the likes of Federer doing his pre-Wimbledon tuning. Unfortunately for these players, grass court season is the shortest, and affords barely any time to players desperate to overcome the exhaustion of a long, hard 2-month clay court swing. Grass is also the only surface which doesn’t have an ATP 1000 Masters tournament, and therefore, most top players even choose to forego there warm-ups, instead choosing to reach SW19 early, practice enough and hit the first official ball straight at Wimbledon after the French Open. Djokovic is a believer of that, and Federer has done it a few times.
2015 has been different for Nadal however. He failed to win any of his favourite tournaments on clay. He failed to reach the last 4 in the French Open for the first time ever, and now he must prove that he is fit and confident enough to perform on grass—traditionally a surface that has brought about his downfall for the last two years. He has suffered early exits at Wimbledon ’13 and ’14 after winning at Roland Garros, and has only once won the Queens title (2008). Dimitrov is the defending Champion, and Andy Murray, who is often a favourite here, has won the title thrice.
And almost as if to showcase Nadal’s current predicament and dip in form, just a few days after winning at Stuttgart (Nadal is one of the few top players to play the maximum of two grass court tournaments before Wimbledon), Nadal went down to No. 78 Dolgopolov—the Ukranian who has now won his last two matches against Nadal.