Nadal Reaches Wimbledon Quarterfinals for First Time Since 2011

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)

Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, seeded second at this year’s Championships, has reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011. He moved forward in his quest for a third Wimbledon men’s singles crown with a convincing 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over unseeded Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, ranked 93rd, in a battle of left-handed hitters Monday afternoon.

Nadal, who won the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon men’s singles titles, dominated Vesely from the baseline during their one hour and 53 minute match on Centre Court that was part of Wimbledon’s “Manic Monday,” in which all of the men’s and women’s fourth-round matches were scheduled. The Spaniard’s 37 winners against just 12 unforced errors – plus his domination at the net – were too much for Vesely. The Czech committed 21 unforced errors and was broken five times by Nadal.

Hall of Famer John McEnroe, who commented on Nadal’s match for ESPN to a mostly-U.S. audience, said of the World No. 1: “He’s healthy; he’s playing excellent tennis. He seems prepared for anything. His opponent froze up a little bit and just didn’t do enough when it really counted.”

Nadal told the BBC right after the match that reaching the quarterfinals was “an important victory for him. 

“I’m playing well – happy to be where I am – and enjoying every minute I have to play in this amazing tournament. 

“Every day is a different story, but I’ve had a positive four matches for me. I hope to keep playing well.”

Nadal will next face either No. 5 seed and 2013 semifinalist Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina or unseeded Gilles Simon of France, ranked 53rd. Del Potro and Simon battled for three hours and 17 minutes on No. 2 Court before play was suspended by darkness Monday evening with del Potro ahead two sets to one, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7. It will be resumed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, No. 9 seed John Isner became the last American male standing at Wimbledon as he beat No. 31 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, 6-4, 7-6 (8), 7-6 (4), after unseeded Mackenzie McDonald, ranked 102nd, lost to No. 13 seed Milos Raonic of Canada, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2, as the 32nd-ranked Canadian fired 37 aces and compiled 74 winners. Isner and Raonic will square off in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday.

Isner reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time since the 2011 U.S. Open thanks in part to hitting 22 service aces and 54 winners against Tsitsipas. It marked the third straight year that an American man has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Elsewhere, Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach the quarterfinals at all four Grand Slams after garnering a tough four-set win over qualifier Ernests Gulbis that turned during the third-set tie-break when the Latvian twisted his left knee on the seventh point. The No. 24 seed Nishikori won the match, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (10), 6-0, to advance against No. 12 seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who continued his comeback from elbow surgery earlier this year.

The 138th-ranked Gulbis, who was playing in his 11th Wimbledon main draw, won three qualifying and three main draw matches before running out of gas Monday. He praised Nishikori afterwards during his post-match press conference. “He’s a fighter. He proved it today, that he found his way,” said Gulbis. “I was unfortunate in the third set, yes, but in the second set he found a way to win it, so this was the key today.”

Meanwhile, the three-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic completed a satisfying 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over 40th-ranked Karen Khachanov of Russia on No. 1 Court in a tidy one hour and 45 minutes to reach his 10th Wimbledon quarterfinal. Djokovic hit 29 winners, committed just 12 unforced errors and outpointed Khachanov 89-59.

Finally, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, seeded eighth, advanced to his first Wimbledon quarterfinal after beating Gaël Monfils of France, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 5-7, 7-6 (4), on the strength of 20 service aces and winning 43 net points. Anderson, 32, became the first South African to reach the final eight at Wimbledon since Wayne Ferreira in 1994. Next, Anderson will face No. 1 seed Roger Federer. The Swiss maestro advanced to the quarterfinals easily over Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-9 7-5, 6-4.

Williams last mom remaining in draw

Serena Williams was one of six mothers entered in this year’s Wimbledon women’s singles draw. Now, as the quarterfinal pairings are all set, she’s the last mom remaining among the 128 players who began play last week.

On Centre Court Monday, the 181st-ranked Williams became the lowest-ranked quarterfinalist at Wimbledon in the Open Era when she defeated unseeded 120th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, 6-2, 6-2, in just 62 minutes.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion finished her fourth-round victory by winning 25 of 34 (74 percent) first-serve points, including 10 service aces. She hit 30 winners, committed just 11 unforced errors and won five of six break-point opportunities. Williams outpointed Rodina, 58-36. As she has reached the quarterfinals for the 13th time in 16 tries, it was the 83rd career win for Williams at Wimbledon.

During her post-match interview with the BBC, Williams admitted that as a “perfectionist” she can always find something wrong with her performance. “It was a good score line, but it was tougher that that,” she said. Williams called her win over Rodina “interesting” and that it “was cool to see two moms playing against each other at Wimbledon.” 

Williams said her win sent a positive message to other mothers. “You can be a mom and still play tennis – still be great – and be in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon,” she said. “You can be a working mom if that’s what you choose. You can also be a stay-at-home mom, too. That’s a full-time job. Either way, women are empowering each other.” 

Next, Williams faces Camila Giorgi of Italy, ranked 56th, on Tuesday afternoon in the second quarterfinal on Centre Court. Williams, who has moved up 93 spots to No. 88 on the provisional WTA rankings by advancing to the final eight, surprisingly, is 3-0 in career head-to-head against Giorgi and has not lost a set..

Women’s quarterfinals order of play

Centre Court, beginning at 1 p.m.

No. 14 Daria Kasatkina, Russia, vs. No. 11 Angelique Kerber, Germany

No. 25 Serena Williams, USA, vs. Camila Giorgi, Italy

No. 1 Court, beginning at 1 p.m.

Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia, vs. No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia

No. 20 Kiki Bertens, Netherlands, vs. No. 13 Julia Goerges