Nadal wary of Wimbledon title rivals
The stunning form of Novak Djokovic in 2011 has seen him turn the perceived two-way battle between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the head of the game into a three-way contest, but Nadal insists that has always been the case.
Djokovic, hoping to embark on a new, long unbeaten run after his 43-game sequence came to an end at the French Open, resumes his tilt at the Wimbledon title against Kevin Anderson on Court One today.
Federer is also in action against Adrian Mannarino, with the pair looking to join Nadal and Andy Murray in the third round after their wins yesterday, but Nadal believes the tussle for titles has always been a multi-way battle, despite what the pundits may say.
"I always say the same, you see who your rivalries are at the end of the season, when we see if I finish five, six, one or two in the world," said Nadal, who beat Ryan Sweeting in straight sets yesterday.
"I have already played Novak in four finals this year, this is true, but Roger was there all the time, in semi-finals and finals. I understand people have to write things and create histories.
"Me and Roger had a big rivalry because we played each other a lot in finals of grand slams, in finals of important matches for a lot of years.
"With Novak the same is happening. We talk about Novak this year, but for the last four years he was number three in the world. He wasn't number 25. He was inside this rivalry.
"I consider Novak a rival. Andy Murray too. It is not always between two. I think there are a lot of players there. Between Andy, Novak, Roger and me, we have probably played the biggest matches in the last couple of years."
Murray secured a meeting with Ivan Ljubicic courtesy of a routine straight-sets win over German Tobias Hanke on Court One.
There was some surprise that Murray, the home favourite, was not placed on Centre Court so he could play under the roof as the rain fell, but he was not fazed by the decision.
"It doesn't bother me," he said. "I think all the players would rather be on Centre because you know you're going to get on, but the court's still the same.
"I don't mind playing on any court, Centre Court, Court One, Court Six, I don't care. I just want to try and win."
Away from Federer and Djokovic, one of today's most eye-catching games pits Robin Soderling against former winner Lleyton Hewitt on Centre Court.
Australian Hewitt is hardly the force he once was but is still a crowd puller, while Soderling will want to prove the gap between the 'Big Four' and him is not so wide.
Other winners yesterday included Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych, Mardy Fish, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon, while Stanislas Wawrinka suffered a surprising exit at the hands of Dudi Sela.
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