Nadal dazzled by Wimbledon sun in first round win

Rafael Nadal blamed sunshine for making his first round at Wimbledon a little more challenging on Tuesday.

It was an unlikely comment from a man raised on the sun-kissed island of Majorca and competing in a city hardly renowned for its weather.

But he did also credit his athletic opponent Francisco Cerundolo with playing his part in stretching an absorbing contest to four sets.

"I was more or less under control with two sets and one break up. But then the sun was crazy there," Nadal said.

"For a righty probably it is not a problem, but for a lefty where the sun is ... I was losing the ball completely."

Nadal, seeking a third Grand Slam title in a row, was not unhappy with the way he played despite a series of unforced errors. It was his first competitive outing on the Wimbledon grass for three years and he won 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4.

"Today was a victory. I spent a long time on court. I really hope that will help," he said.

"I think I need to keep improving things. But at the end of the match I improved. At the most critical moment, I think I raised my level. That's a very positive thing."

Argentine Cerundolo upped his game in the third set of the three-hour 33-minute match as second seed Nadal's energy dropped and the crowd sensed an upset.

"He played at very high level for such a long time. He puts pressure, playing aggressive on both sides," Nadal said of his 41st-ranked opponent who is 13 years his junior and broke into the top 100 only in February.

Seasoned warrior Nadal, 36, has a men's record 22 Grand Slam triumphs to his name, two more than top seed Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who is missing Wimbledon for the first time since 1999 because of a knee injury.

Few would bet against a Nadal-Djokovic showpiece match as the seedings suggest.

But it is unlikely that sunshine in SW19 will be a major factor in the final outcome.

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