Nadal, Federer, Djokovic Advance On Manic Monday At Wimbledon

LONDON, July 8, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

Two-time former champion and third seed Rafael Nadal powered into the quarter-finals of The Championships at Wimbledon on Manic Monday. The Spaniard defeated Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 45 minutes.

Looking overwhelmed in his Centre Court appearance, Sousa dropped the first two service games quickly. By the time he steadied his nerves, the set had already slipped out of his hands. The second set also followed a similar path with Sousa losing his opening service game and Nadal following it up with no-fuss consolidation. A few games later, Sousa had gone down a second service break handing the 33-year-old a two-sets-to-love lead. In the third set, the 30-year-old finally stepped it up. In the third game of the set, Sousa came from two break points down to hold his serve and offer the Mallorcan some semblance of a fight-back. Sadly though it was the only time that would happen, and thereafter, it did not take the 18-time Grand Slam champion long to complete the rout.

Despite the straightforward descriptiveness, the match had its stellar moments. And Sousa’s struggles were not for want of trying or disinterest but because of how Nadal riposted every time his opponent tried to go out of the box. At times, some of Sousa’s shots that would have otherwise been winners were returned back at him with Nadal coming up with near-impossible reaches. As a result, Nadal ended the match with 30 winners to Sousa’s 16. As impressive as this was, Nadal’s all-court game was also on point on the day. The World No. 2 won 84 per cent points off the net to Sousa’s 55 per cent, which also made for a telling statistic.

For Nadal, who is often called a perfectionist, there were still a couple of nits to be picked. Speaking to BBC in the tunnel after leaving the Centre Court, Nadal said, “I think it was a good solid match. Still, the serve didn’t work as well as two days ago, but the rest of things have been very positive. A lot of positive things out there: good forehand, good backhand, changing the rhythm of the point with the slice sometimes, good volleys too. Happy for the victory and to be back in quarter-final. Great news for me.”

This is Nadal’s seventh quarter-final at Wimbledon. In the last-eight, he will play United States’ Sam Querrey. In their all-American fourth round, Querrey took down compatriot Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 7-6(5). This is the 31-year-old’s third quarter-final at Wimbledon in four years.

Roger Federer’s master class against Matteo Berrettini

The eight-time former champion from Switzerland completed a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in merely 74 minutes to reach The Championships’ quarters.

The first couple of games of the opening set were easy to-love holds for both players. Berrettini looked zoned-in in what had been touted as a tough match-up for the 37-year-old. However, just as quickly, Berrettini’s game unravelled and he began miscuing his serves. His shots also found the net often than crossing over to the other side which helped Federer gain more ground in the match.

On his part, Federer bided his time to get more errors off Berrettini. While, at the start of the match, for a couple of points, Federer rushed at the net and found himself being passed for winners, as the match went on, he upped the ante only when he was sure of having wrong-footed his eager rival.

“Yeah I’m very happy, I feel I’m really getting into a good groove now, today I was able to read his serve, get the returns back in play and hit well from the baseline,” Federer said after the win. This was Federer’s 17th quarter-final at Wimbledon and in the last eight, he will play Japan’s eighth seed Kei Nishikori.

Nishikori beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has it easy

Against French up-and-comer Ugo Humbert, the World No. 1 from Serbia won 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in an hour and 42 minutes. The four-time champion was able to thoroughly exploit his 21-year-old opponent’s weaknesses on a surface on which his experience has been just a handful of matches.

The Belgrade native who has engaged the services of former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic in order to help him in his title-defence campaign spoke about being focused and centred as a prepping tactic. “That’s always the aim, to reach the final stages at Grand Slams,” Djokovic told the BBC in this post-match interview. “I always try to set my form so I can play my best at this tournament. Wimbledon historically for many players and me included has been a special tournament that has motivated me throughout my life. I try not to take things for granted. We keep on going.”

The 15-time Grand Slam champion will play Belgium’s 21st seed David Goffin in the quarters. Goffin defeated Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 7-6(9), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted a minute short of the three-hour mark. In the first set, Verdasco had five set points but Goffin held firm to snatch the set away and lead in the match. While the 35-year-old made reparations by taking the second set but could not stop Goffin from reaching his third quarter-final at a Slam.

Others in the fray

The twenty-third seed from Spain Roberto Bautista Agut defeated France’s 28th seed Benoit Paire in the fourth round. Bautista Agut won 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time in his career. This is also the 31-year-old’s second quarter-final at a Major, since reaching the Australian Open quarters this year in January.

Bautista Agut will next take on 26th seed Guido Pella of Argentina, who fought past No. 15 seed Milos Raonic from Canada, winning 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 8-6 in three hours and 42 minutes.