Spain's Rafael Nadal arrived in Stuttgart, Germany, on 7 June for the start of the grass court season, which this year has been extended by one week, allowing three weeks before the start of the Wimbledon championships on 29 June.
Whereas in recent years Nadal would have been playing in the French Open final in Paris that day, the 29 year old was training for the Mercedes Cup on a surface that he was won three titles on, including Wimbledon victories in 2008 and 2010.
"The preparation doesn't change much, but at the same time, the grass surface deserves one more week. It's a very important surface, a historic surface for our sport, so the grass deserves to have one more week. And obviously, for the players, it's a little bit better to have three weeks before Wimbledon," said Nadal.
Nadal's run of nine French Open titles in ten years was ended in the quarter-finals by world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia last week. As a result, Nadal has dropped down to tenth in the world rankings, his lowest position since 2005.
Despite this, Nadal said that his aim is still to win as many matches as possible.
"My goal is always the same, I always try to win as many matches as possible in every tournament I'm going to play. The first tournament on grass always is a very tough one, a very difficult one to adapt. It's something that I need time on court, I need to spend hours on court to feel myself comfortable on grass, the movement, the way that I hit the shots, but the only way I can make that happen is to spend time on court," he said.
Nadal is the top seed for the Mercedes Cup, and after receiving a bye in the opening round he will face the winner of the match between Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic and Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the second round.