Tennis: Nadal, Djokovic under Wimbledon cloud

Tennis: Nadal, Djokovic under Wimbledon cloud
Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia during the Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco.

LONDON - Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic head to Wimbledon fearing the title may be beyond them as the season's third Grand Slam tournament shapes up to be the most open in a decade.

World number one Nadal, fresh from a record ninth French Open title, was Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010 and runner-up in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

But his last two visits have been humiliating disasters.

The Spaniard suffered his first ever opening round exit at a Grand Slam in 2013 to Belgian journeyman Steve Darcis who was ranked 135 at the time and has not won a main tour match since.

Twelve months earlier, the world's 100th best player, big-hitting Lukas Rosol put him out in the second round, a defeat which precipitated a seven-month absence from the sport for the man from Mallorca.

The 28-year-old hinted at another Wimbledon letdown in the immediate aftermath of his triumph over Djokovic in the French Open final two weeks ago where he claimed his 14th major.

"I am healthy, that's the most important thing. I hope my knee will have a positive feeling on grass because I felt my knee was better last year on the other surfaces," said Nadal, who has been seeded number two for Wimbledon.

"Grass is always a little bit harder for me after injury. I played Wimbledon in 2012 with my knee injury and I never played another match after. Last year I tried but I was not ready enough to compete. Let's see how are my feelings this year."

Those feelings would not have been boosted by an opening exit on the grass at Halle last week, a straights sets loss to German world number 85, Dustin Brown.

"The match was negative in all ways," lamented Nadal.

World number two Djokovic, who won his only Wimbledon title in 2011 and was runner-up to Andy Murray in 2013, has not played a grasscourt warm-up event since 2010.

The 27-year-old Serb, the top seed for Wimbledon, won the last of his six majors at the Australian Open in 2013.

But his latest thwarted attempt to win a first French Open and become just the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam represented his seventh defeat in 13 finals at the majors.

Even more worryingly, Djokovic has now lost five of his last six Grand Slam finals.

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