“I had to find a way to serve a little bit different. For a lot of moments I was thinking maybe I will not be able to finish the match. But I don’t know, the court, the energy is something else, so thanks for that.”

The All England Club, where the Spaniard has won two of his 22 majors, has been the least rewarding place for Nadal but he arrived this year having won the Australian and French Open titles back-to-back for the first time in his career. A third Wimbledon title and first since 2010 on the manicured lawns and a US Open triumph at Flushing Meadows would see the Mallorcan claim the calendar slam — a feat last achieved in 1969 by Australian great Rod Laver.

Fritz, 12 years younger than the 36-year-old Nadal, dealt a blow to the Spaniard earlier this year in the final of the ATP 1000 event in Indian Wells, putting an end to his 20-match winning run in the season. But Nadal played that match with a stress fracture in his rib, which later ruled him out of competition for a month.

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