Roig's Five Takeaways From Nadal's R3 Win
On Saturday, Nadal defeated Alex de Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a fourth-round showdown against Jiri Vesely. Roig lists five key takeaways from Nadal’s win over De Minaur, and what the 17-time Grand Slam champion will need to do if he is to get past the Czech player and reach the quarter-finals at SW19 for the first time since 2011.
The best thing Rafa did was to stick to the plan and do what he did out there. He could have approached the net a little more, but he didn't deem it necessary. De Minaur is extremely quick and gets into ideal positions on the court. So maybe approaching the net would have been unnecessary risk. Overall, a solid performance by Rafa.
A Very Good Rival
De Minaur performed very well. I was not surprised that he wasn't afraid to step on to Centre Court at Wimbledon against Rafa. His level of play dipped at points, but that's because Rafa stepped up his game and De Minaur didn't have a backup plan. But I think he enjoyed being out there, without a doubt.
The Heat And The Grass
Obviously, the heat favours Rafa, and the condition of the grass is playing into Rafa's hands. Then again, the way he's playing, court conditions would have to be really, really bad to throw him off his game. He has the ability to make shots that no one else can hit on grass. If the ball sits a little high, it gives Rafa even more time to execute. Opponents aren't used to returning that kind of ball. Rafa showed exactly why he's difficult to handle.
This Year Compared To 2017
Last year, Rafa played excellent the first three matches of Wimbledon, and that first set against Karen Khachanov was spectacular. There's something to keep in mind as well; there were those years he didn't go into Wimbledon in the best of form. Now he's reached the Round of 16 for the second straight season, and he's playing in solid form. In 2017, we were confident Rafa could go deep into the tournament (l. to Muller 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 13-15 in fourth round) and we're confident about Rafa's chances this year as well.
Shortening The Rallies
Obviously, we're always looking to improve some part of Rafa's game. We don't want to go overboard, but one key element is to finish points quickly. He needs to take initiative earlier and end the exchanges in two or three shots. In addition, his slice backhand has been amazing, but Rafa needs to go forward a little more so that the opponent doesn't have much time to react to the slice.