LONDON - Rafael Nadal is determined to cap his return to the top of the world by regaining the Wimbledon title he was forced to surrender without a fight.
Nadal is back at Wimbledon for the first time since his epic victory over Roger Federer in the 2008 final after missing last year's tournament due to tendinitis in both knees.
Many pundits feared the Spaniard would never be the same dominant force again due to the wear and tear to his knees.
But Nadal will walk into the All England Club on today as the world No1 and the most likely threat to defending champion Federer after a magnificent clay-court campaign.
He reeled off 24 successive victories and claimed titles at Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid and the French Open before finally losing to Feliciano Lopez at Queen's.
That defeat could largely be attributed to fatigue and Nadal is convinced he is in the perfect form and mood to claim a second title at the grass court grand slam.
In contrast, Federer arrives at Wimbledon with uncertainty surrounding his form after an unusually poor run of recent results.
But he insists that he is comfortable with the way he is playing and expects nothing less than another winning performance at Wimbledon.
l Ernests Gulbis, 21, Nadal's projected third-round opponent, withdrew from the event amid a hamstring injury, tournament organisers said yesterday.
Gulbis who posted a victory over Federer this year, was seeded 27th at Wimbledon and has been replaced by Germany's Philipp Petzschner.
Petzschner's place in the draw is taken by a lucky loser Santiago Ventura. - Sapa-AFP, Reuters