Nadal Ruthless On Serve To Reach Wimbledon Quarter-finals
If Joao Sousa was going to spring a massive upset against two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal on Monday, the Portuguese No. 1 likely needed to get off to a strong start. But Nadal broke to start the match, held to love, and then broke again. The second seed was a train rolling downhill, and he never looked back.
Nadal cruised into the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory after one hour and 45 minutes, advancing to the last eight of a major for the 39th time. He has now made the quarter-finals of eight consecutive Grand Slam championships, his longest streak since doing it in 11 straight major appearances from the 2009 US Open through 2012 Roland Garros.
Nadal is now just one victory from qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the 15th consecutive year. If the Spaniard defeats Sam Querrey in Wednesday’s quarter-finals, he will guarantee his spot in London for the season finale, which will take at The O2 from 10-17 November.
"When he plays well, he can be very, very dangerous on all surfaces," Nadal said. "But of course, on fast surfaces, when he serves with his aggressive game, [he is] maybe more [dangerous]."
Nadal's Road To The Quarter-finals
|Round of 16||def. Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2|
|Third Round||def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2|
|Second Round||def. Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3)|
|First Round||def. Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1, 6-3|
After his third-round victory against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nadal told the media that he knew Sousa well from their abundance of practices over the years. It looked like it on Centre Court, as with the exception of a few short mid-court forehands throughout the match, Nadal was able to play the match on his terms, keeping the ball out of the World No. 69’s strike zone and controlling rallies without making many mistakes to allow Sousa to gain confidence.
Nadal struck 30 winners to only 10 unforced errors, and he did not face a break point in the match, winning more than 78 per cent of his service points. The World No. 2 has not dropped his serve since the second set of the second round.
When the draw was released, it appeared Nadal potentially had the toughest road of the top seeds. But after battling past talented Aussie Nick Kyrgios in the second round — winning tie-breaks in the third and fourth sets — the 33-year-old has been ruthless, losing only 13 games in six sets against Tsonga and Sousa.
Nadal wasted no time putting pressure on the Portuguese, hitting an overhead that his opponent sliced into the net to break in the opening game of the match. And Sousa, who was competing in the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time, missed a backhand wide to give the 18-time major winner a second break in the early going.
If Sousa was going to battle his way into the match, he needed a better start in the second set. But the 30-year-old missed an inside-in forehand long to give up a break in the set's first game, allowing the Spaniard the only advantage he needed.
The 82-time tour-level titlist had an answer for nearly everything Sousa threw at him. In his second service game of the third set, the Portuguese had complete control of a point, forcing Nadal to cover every corner of the court. But his drop shot at the net was not good enough, and Nadal dinked a no-look winner, leaping into the air as he pumped his fist, earning break point. Nadal converted that chance and continued on to his victory.
His next opponent, Querrey, battled past fellow American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in two hours and 57 minutes to reach his third Wimbledon quarter-final.
Before competing in the Nature Valley International the week before this Grand Slam championship, Querrey had not played since Houston due to an abdominal injury. But the 31-year-old advanced to the final in Eastbourne, and has been nearly flawless on serve at SW19, getting broken just once through four matches.
Sandgren saved two match points in the fourth-set tie-break with aces. But Querrey closed it out on his own serve, serving and volleying to put pressure on his countryman, who hit a crosscourt backhand into the net. The former World No. 11 struck 74 winners to only 39 unforced errors, saving all break points he faced, with each of those coming in the first set.
Nadal leads Querrey 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but the American won their most recent battle in the 2017 Acapulco final. The big-serving Querrey, who can often take the racquet out of his opponents' hands with his powerful game, defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic here in 2016 and then-World No. 1 Andy Murray in the 2017 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Did You Know?
Nadal is trying to capture both the Roland Garros and Wimbledon title in the same year for the third time, which would equal Bjorn Borg’s all-time record. In 2008 and 2010, the previous years in which Nadal has triumphed at the All England Club, he also emerged victorious in Paris.