Nadal moves on
LONDON -- Uncle Toni’s reaction said it all.
This one meant a lot to him and to the tennis player he coaches, his No. 1-ranked nephew Rafael Nadal, who was in a tough spot Thursday, one point from trailing two sets to none against the same guy he lost to -- in the same stadium, same round -- two years ago at Wimbledon.
As the younger Nadal began turning things around, evening the match at a set apiece on his opponent’s double-fault, the older Nadal dispensed with any sense of decorum, leaping out his Centre Court seat, punching the air, and shouting "Vamos!"
From there, the ultimate result quickly became apparent. Nadal came back to beat 52nd-ranked Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-4, returning to the third round at the All England Club for the first time since 2011.
"I didn’t want to lose another time against a guy like this," Toni Nadal said. "I don’t like to lose against a player I find (unprofessional)."
In 2012’s second round, Rosol was ranked 100th, and Nadal was on a streak of having reached the final in five consecutive Wimbledon appearances. The big-swinging, 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Rosol played an unrepentantly risky style that day, aiming for lines and putting shots where he wanted, pulling off a five-set victory.
Rosol engaged in some gamesmanship then, including moving around while waiting to receive serves and, Toni said Thursday, making noise as Rafael was hitting shots. After the rematch, Rosol complained Nadal took too much time between points and lamented that the chair umpire didn’t intervene.
Said Toni about Rosol: "It’s normal that we want to win, but it’s true that for me, it’s worse to lose with him than with another guy."
Rafael, for his part, said he wasn’t thinking about two years ago. Still, for nearly two full sets, it was hard not to recall that match because Rosol played similarly, hitting hard, flat strokes that didn’t miss. When Rosol broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set with a cross-court backhand, he had a 24-9 edge in winners.
Nadal broke back to 4-all, whirling around and throwing a celebratory uppercut, but again was in trouble at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. On that set point, Nadal whipped a winner he called "a perfect forehand for that moment" to get to 6-all. Two points later, Rosol plopped a second serve into the net for a double-fault that ceded the set, and said later: "In the end, he was more lucky."
Nadal probably would not agree with that assessment. He did agree about the significance of that sequence.
"The difference maybe is one point," said Nadal, who collected two of his 14 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon but exited in the first round last year. "Maybe if I lose that set point in the second set -- if that forehand down the line went out -- maybe (I) will be here with a loss."
Instead, he raised the level of his play. He won 22 consecutive points on his serve, and moved better, bending so low his knee touched the grass on backhands. Nadal broke for a 2-1 lead in the third set, and again for a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
"If I had played the first set the way I did the last two, I would have won it, too, I think," Nadal said.
Three seeded men lost, including No. 13 Richard Gasquet, who wasted nine match points and was beaten by 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios of Australia 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8. Winners included No. 5 Stan Wawrinka, No. 8 Milos Raonic, No. 9 John Isner and No. 10 Kei Nishikori among the men, and past champions Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova among the women.
Nadal’s longtime rival, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, turned in a far more straightforward performance, delivering 25 aces in a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win over 103rd-ranked Gilles Muller of Luxembourg to get back to the third round, too.
Federer’s streak of 36 consecutive major quarterfinals ended at the All England Club with a second-round defeat last year, part of a tumultuous and unpredictable tournament. This year has gone more to form, so far.
"For the most part, the locker room I’m in, it still seems pretty full -- where all the seeded players are," Isner said. "It’s good to see. It’s good for the tournament to have all the big names, especially the top four, still alive."
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