Wimbledon 2018: Nadal makes it back to quarterfinals with a three-set win over Vesely
Rafael Nadal earned a comprehensive win to advance on at the championships at Wimbledon on Manic Monday. The second seed had a sigh of relief in the final set as Jiri Vesely surged but was held back in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court at the All England Club. Nadal outscored the Czech 91-65 in just another day on the court for the two-time winner to move into his 6th career Wimbledon quarterfinal.
The two met three years ago on the clay court where Czech experienced a challenge against the King of Clay going down in straights sets. He had only dropped two sets while Nadal was yet to drop one. While this wasn’t on Nadal’s strongest surface, Vesely would try to see if he could make a dent occur early and go for a big moment of his career.
The Czech stayed with Nadal in the opening service games but his mistakes gave Nadal the two-game buffer after four. It was soon 4-1 for Nadal before Vesely managed to get his serve locked in in the sixth to sit two back of the second seed.
Nadal inched closer to the set with a hold in the seventh but couldn’t break the Czech into bringing an end to the first. He had to do it himself reaching two set points that he saw get done on a forehand from Vesely into the net completing 30 minutes. It saw Nadal allow just two points on serve and commit one error through nine games total.
Vesely opened to hold serve to start the second going four games before he was broken in the fifth. Nadal took back control with a hold of serve in the sixth showing his comfort to conduct the set his way.
The Spaniard couldn’t get a break but held on serve again to play for the second set delivering a lined slice that Vesely swung and missed at ending 34 minutes with Nadal up two sets to none.
The 32-year-old had a well-rounded service game in the mid to upper seventies scoring 16 winners against Vesely while committing three unforced errors. While his return game wasn’t up to par, the pace was clearly in a mould that he could handle.
Vesely wanted out of the pace that Nadal had set and did so with a break after four games of serve. Nadal got under pressure a little but overcame the short deficit after a couple of points went his way to get the game.
The first was a ball that popped out of Vesely’s short pocket and the other landing a millimetre away from the line on a challenge. It was three all with Nadal trying to break away from the Czech doing so with very tricky returns in the rallies.
He did so in the seventh but saw Vesely staying close to him all the way through eight. A key hold for the Spaniard in the ninth put the Czech on the edge of elimination but he battled to play every point in the tenth.
A great backhand gave him game point but a backhanded return into the net sent the two to deuce. A tough return on the first break from Vesely gave Nadal match point only for him to be trumped as an ace from the 24-year-old kept him alive. He saved the second one with an ace on the T before nailing a cross-court ace for a second shot at sending the set forward.
Two shots into the net from Vesely gave the Spaniard a third try at closing things out getting it on a ball wide of the net ending the match that lasted 1 hour and 53 minutes. “It was an important moment for me to get back into the quarterfinals,” Nadal said to BBC Sports. “I’m happy to be where I am and I’m playing well so just enjoying every time that I have to play on this amazing court.”
“He (Vesely) started to play better from the baseline and I made a couple of mistakes with the game that I lost with my forehand and felt like I came back straight in the next game and a key moment to hold in the final games.”
With the day off tomorrow, Nadal would take the time to rest and prepare for Wednesday’s quarterfinal against either Juan Martin del Potro or Gilles Simon.
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