WASHINGTON, July 7, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal moved into the second week of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships by defeating #NextGenATP star Alex De Minaur of Australia, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, in just over two hours on Centre Court Saturday afternoon. He won in front of an audience that included four-time Wimbledon champion and Hall of Fame great Rod Laver sitting in the front row of the Royal Box.
The second-seeded Spaniard handled himself well – looking fierce and in form – and maintained the upper hand throughout his third-round match against the 80th-ranked De Minaur. He won 75 percent of his service points. On his third match point, Nadal put it away with a nifty backhand volley winner at the net to close out an 11-point final game. It marked the second straight year that Nadal has reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon and his eighth time overall. On Monday, he will attempt to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.
“I had a few tough moments, but I’m happy with my result,” Nadal told the BBC after his victory. “I’m happy to be in the fourth round again and I hope to keep playing well.”
By winning Saturday and reaching the fourth round, Nadal is assured of leaving Wimbledon with the No. 1 ranking. He came into the Wimbledon fortnight with just a 50-point lead over World No. 2 Roger Federer in the ATP Rankings with 8,770 points.
No. 1 seed Halep ousted
Top-seeded Simona Halep‘s loss to 48th-ranked Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, was the latest in a rash of upsets that has demolished the women’s draw at this year’s Wimbledon. Nine of the top 10 seeds, including No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza, No. 4 Sloane Stephens, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 6 Caroline Garcia, No. 8 Petra Kvitova, No. 9 Venus Williams and No. 10 Madison Keys, have been eliminated during the first week.
The highest remaining seed is No. 7 Karolina Pliskova, who faces No. 20 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the fourth round on Monday. Unseeded Serena Williams of the United States, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, remains a favorite to win her eighth Wimbledon crown.
“The greatest win of her singles career”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) 7. Juli 2018
Hsieh came back from down 2-5 in the third set to beat Halep, the reigning French Open champion. She saved two break points in the final game. Afterward, Hsieh called it “the greatest win of her singles career.
“First win against No. 1. It’s amazing to be there and fight against the nerves. … If I don’t fight, I don’t come through,” Hsieh told the WTA Insider after her victory.
Hsieh has three Top 10 wins in her career – and all have come in Grand Slams.
Del Potro yet to drop a set
Juan Martín del Potro has quietly but effectively gone about his business on the outer courts of the All England Club, staying under the radar of many but his most ardent fans. He has yet to drop a set in three matches as he punched his ticket for the second week of Wimbledon. On Saturday, the fifth-seeded Argentine advanced to the fourth round with a 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over 47th-ranked Benoit Paire of France in two hours and 24 minutes on No. 2 Court. Del Potro hit 32 winners and converted five of his 12 break-point opportunities against Paire.
By winning, del Potro broke a tie with David Nalbandian for most fourth-round appearances by an Argentine in reaching the Round of 16 for the fourth time. He also moved ahead of Nalbandian, a 2002 Wimbledon finalist, in two other national categories, including taking over second place for most Grand Slam wins (87) and he broke the record for most Wimbledon match victories (20).
Next, del Potro will face 2015 quarterfinalist Gilles Simon of France. The 53rd-ranked Simon advanced over Matthew Ebden of Australia, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (2), by hitting 42 winners and saving seven of eight break points.
Other men’s results:
• 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic of Canada, finished off his two-day, four-set match against Austrian Dennis Novak with 28 aces to win 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. The Canadian reached the second week for the fourth time. Play was suspended by darkness Friday night with Raonic leading 6-5 in the third set.
Other women’s results:
• No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia beat 132nd-ranked Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia, 6-0, 6-4, needing just 63 minutes to move into the second week.
• Unseeded and 33rd-ranked Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who would have been seeded No. 32 had it not been for Serena Williams being elevated by the Wimbledon seeding committee, advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 15 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium.
• Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium backed up her win over No. 3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain on Thursday with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 28 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia to earn her first Round of 16 at Wimbledon. The 47th-ranked Belgian will face No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia, who defeated No. 17 seed Ash Barty of Australia, 7-5, 6-3.
• No. 27 seed Carla Suarez-Navarro of Spain was upset by 56th-ranked Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 6-1, 7-6 (3), who advanced to the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2016 Australian Open.