Agassi praises Nadal's grasscourt attitude
By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - French Open champion Rafael Nadal's determination to prove his credentials on grass was applauded by former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi on Monday.
While many Roland Garros champions opted to put their feet up and shun the grasscourt season, Spaniard Nadal has repeatedly bucked the trend.
"I respect how much he's valued Wimbledon and what he's said about it," said Agassi, who famously boycotted the home of grasscourt tennis during the early stages of his career because of the tournament's all-white attire policy.
"It shows you the competitor's heart he has. Any time you got a ticker like that, you got to leave room for some great things."
Four-times Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman added: "I just like the attitude that he just wants to come and play and challenge himself.
"Irrespective of whether he loses in the first round of Wimbledon or makes the final, you know he's going to be out there to better himself as a player and see how good he can be."
After winning a maiden grand slam title in Paris last year, Nadal legged it to Germany to have a stab at finding his feet on the lawns in Halle.
That experiment ended in his first match and after skidding out of Wimbledon in the second round, he has opted to try a different strategy this time round.
He has entered both singles and doubles at the Stella Artois Championships in London, which is a stone's throw away from Wimbledon.
"Last year I played in Halle without any concentration," Nadal said after extending his record unbeaten run on clay to 60 matches following his four-set win over world number one Roger Federer in the French Open final.
"But this year I want to concentrate... and play good matches because that's important for building up confidence for Wimbledon."
While the 20-year-old has built an aura of invincibility around him when it comes to his claycourt feats, Agassi warned that the Spaniard had plenty of work to do if he was ever to become a force on the turf.
On current form, Nadal faces an uphill task of even coming close to becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles back-to-back.
"It's easy to see that he's going to have more difficulty on grass than any other surface from his side of the court," said the American.
Henman added: "With the extreme nature of his game, you know how much he relies on his movement, I think how much harder that will be for him on a grass court.
"But (considering) he won Madrid at the end of last year on a relatively fast court and altitude, he's going to fancy his chances on grass.
"When you compete as well as he does, it's very dangerous to write him off on any type of surface."