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Rafael Nadal defeats Ricardas Berankis in four sets to reach the third round at Wimbledon.

Nadal Challenged Again, But Advances At Wimbledon

Two-time champion will next face Sonego

Rafael Nadal has been challenged in his first two matches at Wimbledon, but he is through to the third round without facing any significant danger.

The two-time champion defeated Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after three hours and two minutes on Thursday in the second round of The Championships. The second seed will next play 27th seed Lorenzo Sonego, who reached the fourth round at SW19 last year.

"Every day is a challenge, that's the truth. All the opponents are difficult. We are playing against the best players of the world and especially even in these conditions, it will be more [difficult]. I didn't play much on grass for the past three years," Nadal said in his on-court interview. "Every day is an opportunity to improve and today I'm through, so that gives me the chance to keep going. [I am] very happy for that."

It was not a perfect performance from Nadal, who lost his serve twice and dropped a set for the second consecutive match (also against Argentine Francisco Cerundolo). But he is now 32-3 on the season and continues his pursuit of the Grand Slam, having triumphed at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

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Nadal so often is able to dominate his opponents in the early rounds with his unrelenting focus and the physicality of his game. He made 39 unforced errors against the former junior World No. 1, but credit goes to Berankis for raising his level against the 22-time major champion.

"I need to improve. But I think the fourth set was much better. I think it was a good level of tennis in that fourth set. The serve worked much better," Nadal said. "In the end I was able to play a little bit more aggressive with the forehand. At the beginning, it was too many mistakes, but that's a process. It's important for me to accept that things are not perfect and [that I need to] just keep working, being humble and accept the challenge."

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There is a difference between winning one set against Nadal at a major and claiming a match, though.. Berankis lost his focus momentarily in his first service game of the fourth set, launching a forehand approach shot long to hand the Spaniard a service break. The 32-year-old, who is No. 106 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, was unable to battle back from there.

At 3-0 in the fourth set, there was a delay of about one hour due to rain, forcing the players to depart while the Centre Court roof was closed. But that only put off the inevitable, with Nadal cruising to the finish line upon the resumption. He hit three of his 12 aces in the final game to complete his victory.

Nadal’s next opponent, Sonego, eliminated 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Hugo Gaston 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day. The Italian has made the third round at all three majors this season.

It will be the first ATP Head2Head meeting between Nadal and Sonego, who owns a 3-13 record against Top 10 opponents. 

Did You Know?
Nadal has now advanced to at least the third round at 21 consecutive majors he has played. In his past 15 Grand Slam appearances, he has reached at least the quarter-finals.

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