Rafa confident knee injury won’t hinder progress

RAFAEL NADAL feels his fighting spirit can carry him through the second week of Wimbledon despite concerns over an ongoing knee problem.

The Spaniard received treatment on his right knee during his five-set victory over Germany’s Philipp Petzschner in the third round on Saturday.

Despite admitting he is a “little bit scared about the knee”, the 2008 champion insists he will not drop out of Wimbledon as he prepares for his clash with Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu today.

“Emotionally I’m perfect,” the 24-year-old said. “I fought a lot in the last two matches. I think I played very good tennis.

“But I said before the tournament, the draw is going to be difficult.

“That’s what happens when you play against players that have a very good serve.

“Physically, I have a little bit of a problem on the right knee. But I have a day and a half to recover.”

Top seed Roger Federer, who has also came through a five-set encounter, against Alejandro Falla in the first round, faces former junior doubles partner Jurgen Melzer today and he expects a tough encounter.

Melzer has reached a career-high 16 in the world rankings this month following his run to the French Open semi-finals.

Federer said: “We tend to have similar schedules, but we’ve never met. It’s kind of cool we finally get a chance to play each other, especially here at Wimbledon, which I think is one of his best surfaces, and he’s coming off of a great French Open.

“I’ll definitely be in for a tough match. He’s improved again. He’s making a move, a push in his ranking. My job is to try to stop that a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova insists power is not everything in tennis as she prepares to face Serena Williams on grass for the first time since causing a sensation in the 2004 Wimbledon final.

The Russian was 17 when she thrashed Williams 6-1 6-4 to land her first grand slam, and the result was hailed at the time by Martina Navratilova as “the best thing” that could have happened to the women’s game.

At the time, the Williams sisters were the dominant force in the game, closely followed by the Belgian pair of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.

“Tennis is not just about power,” Sharapova said. “I think on grass it’s a big key to the game. But I don’t think that’s everything in tennis.”

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