Ruthless Nadal Dispatches Sonego
In his best performance of the week, the Spaniard lit up Centre Court with his aggressive striking and all-court game. The 36-year-old blasted the ball past Sonego from all angles, while demonstrating deft touches at the net to advance after two hours and four minutes.
"It was probably my best match without a doubt here at The Championships against the most difficult player I have faced yet,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “I was able to raise my level, so I am super happy for that. I wish Lorenzo all the very best for the rest of the season.”
The display was a contrast to Nadal’s first two matches at The Championships, where he struggled to find his best level in four-set victories over Francisco Cerundolo and Ricardas Berankis. However, against Sonego, the World No. 4 showed his title rivals that he means business in his quest for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title.
"I made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days: the determination, the way that I managed to play more aggressive, going to the net plenty of times," Nadal said. "[I am] happy. It's [a] good victory against a great player. Very happy for that."
Nadal arrived in London - where is looking to clinch a third Wimbledon crown - having won the first two majors of the season for the first time in his career. The World No. 4, who is now 33-3 on the season, will next play Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in a rematch of their recent Roland Garros clash as he looks to continue his unbeaten 2022 Slam record.
"He's a player that has been improving unbelievably the last year. [It] was a good challenge in the French and I think he will be more, [difficult here]," Nadal said. "He's a complete player with a lot of great things, and I need to keep going the way that I played today: playing aggressive and playing with the right energy. Let's see. He's a tough opponent, but we are in fourth round. That's the way that it should be."
Nadal flew out of the blocks against Sonego in their first ATP Head2Head meeting, pulling the Italian from corner to corner with his heavy forehand. The Spaniard took the ball early off both wings to take time away from Sonego, firing 14 winners across the first two sets to gain full control.
With his foot on the gas, Nadal continued to dictate in the third set, flattening out his backhand to cause Sonego more trouble. With Nadal leading 4-2, the roof was closed due to fading light. When they returned, the Spaniard's concentration briefly dipped, with Sonego breaking back to level at 4-4. However, all this did was fire up Nadal, with the second seed increasing his depth on return to break back immediately, before he held to advance to the fourth round at The All England Lawn Tennis Club for the 10th time.
“I feel very lucky that I am still able to play at my age,” Nadal said. “I never thought that was going to happen 10 years ago. So just want to say thanks to all for supporting me.”