Spanish tennis giant Rafael Nadal is back at Wimbledon’s facility for the first time since 2019. And it’s a success.
On Monday, he played his way to the quarter-finals with great conviction, when the otherwise strong Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp was beaten safely with the figures 6-4, 6-2, 7-6.
Between 2006 and 2011, Nadal was in the final five times, while an injury prevented him from starting in 2009. Since then, a number of lean years followed on the grass, before reaching the semifinals in both 2018 and 2019.
In 2020, the corona pandemic led to the cancellation of Wimbledon, while an injury kept Nadal away last year.
Now he’s back in the tournament he won in 2008 and 2010, and judging by his play, the second-seeded Spaniard is certainly in play for yet another victory.
In the usual mechanical way, Monday’s opponent in the fourth round, the 21st-seeded van de Zandschulp, simply became a tassel in Nadal’s insistent and almost flawless play from the back line.
He struck out with a break at the end of the first set before convincingly taking the second set.
There came a surprising bit of hesitation as he was otherwise ahead 5-2 in the third set and cruised towards victory.
He was broken by the 26-year-old Dutchman and had to go into a tiebreak, where Nadal abused three match balls ahead 6-3.
With his experience, however, he remained calm and took the victory on his next match ball as well as the entry ticket to the quarterfinals.
Nadal is history’s most winning men’s player in grand slam context with 22 titles. Three more wins at this year’s Wimbledon will give him the 23rd title.
In the quarterfinals, however, fierce opposition awaits in the form of American Taylor Fritz, who earlier this year defeated Nadal in the final at Indian Wells.