Focused Nadal Returns To Wimbledon Quarter-finals
World No. 1 awaits the winner of Del Potro and Simon
Rafael Nadal took a big step forward in his quest for a third trophy at The Championships on Monday. The Spanish superstar, who is guaranteed to remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings when the new standings are published on 16 July, advanced to the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since 2011.
The 2008 and 2010 champion dominated Czech Jiri Vesely from the baseline on the sun-baked grass in a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 fourth-round victory over one hour and 53 minutes. “Of course it's an important result for me,” said Nadal. “But when I came here, I came here thinking that I could produce a good result.”
Nadal will now face fifth seed and 2013 semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina or France’s Gilles Simon on Friday. He leads Del Potro 10-5 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including two grass-court wins at the 2007 Fever-Tree Championships and at Wimbledon in 2011. Nadal has an 8-1 record against Simon, with their last clash coming in August 2016 at the Rio Olympics.
When asked about what he will do on Tuesday, Nadal said, “I will practice for one hour. I do some treatment with my physio and I am going to watch the football. Then I am probably going to be relaxing a little bit at home. Maybe cooking a little bit at lunchtime.”
Nadal is bidding to capture his third Roland Garros and Wimbledon title double (2008, 2010). The 32-year-old leads the ATP Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. He has a 34-2 match record on the year, which includes historic 11th titles at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori), the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas) and at Roland Garros (d. Thiem). He also lifted his eighth Internazionali BNL d'Italia crown (d. Zverev).
A business like Nadal stepped out onto Centre Court with great focus, hitting nine winners and committing just one unforced error in the 30-minute opener, which started to go his way when Vesely hit a double fault at 1-2, Ad-Out. Nadal lost just two of his service points and was gifted the set when Vesely struck a backhand slice into the net.
Nadal continued to play at a high intensity, ripping a forehand return winner (one of 16 in the second set) to take a 3-2 lead. He struck his first double fault at 3-2, 40/15, but it was the only minor setback for the second seed, who wrapped up the 36-minute set with a backhand slice winner down the line. Through two sets, Nadal had only committed four unforced errors.
Vesely, with nothing to lose, started to play aggressively and took advantage when Nadal let slip a 40/15 lead at 2-2. Yet the Czech’s newfound confidence was short lived, with two ill-conceived drop shots in the next game highlighting his mental fatigue. Two big serves by Vesely saved match points at 4-5, but Nadal was not to be denied. Vesely struck a backhand wide to end the pair's second meeting (2015 Hamburg). Nadal has yet to serve and volley in his four straight sets Wimbledon match wins this year.
Did You Know?
Nadal advanced to five straight Wimbledon finals between 2006-08, 2010-11 (excluding 2009, when he did not play due to injury). He beat Roger Federer for the 2008 title and Tomas Berdych in the 2010 title match.