Nadal made to work at Wimbledon

Glenn MooreAAP
Rafael Nadal found putting away Wimbledon opponent Ricardas Berankis sweatier work than expected.
Camera IconRafael Nadal found putting away Wimbledon opponent Ricardas Berankis sweatier work than expected. Credit: AP

Rafael Nadal took longer than expected to move into Wimbledon's last 32, and not just because the roof had to be closed on centre court after rain interrupted the No.2 seed's progress.

There was also the obstacle of Ricardas Berankis, the 32-year-old veteran Lithuanian.

Now lying outside the world's top 100, Berankis did not seem a major impediment to Nadal's pursuit of a first men's singles calendar-year grand slam since Australian great Rod Laver in 1969.

He was playing in a major main draw for the 36th time without ever previously having gone beyond the third round.

However, against the man who has won more slams than anyone else, Berankis was not intimidated, even having the temerity to win the third set on Thursday.

That meant Nadal was still on court when a deluge arrived, delaying the match for an hour while the roof was rolled across and towels brought out.

After that mopping-up operation, Nadal performed one of his own, wrapping up the tie 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-3.

"The fourth set was much better," said Nadal. "The serve was working better and I was able to play more aggressively with the forehand. At the beginning I was making too many mistakes."

Nadal will play Italy's Lorenzo Sonego, who defeated Hugo Gaston 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 6-4, for a place in the fourth round.

The match-up everyone is looking forward to in the last 32 is, however, Stefanos Tsitsipas against Nick Kyrgios.

Tsitsipas knocked out Kyrgios' compadre Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-3 7-5 while Kyrgios brushed aside Filip Krajinovic 6-2 6-3 6-1.

There will also be a lot of attention, locally at least, on Liam Broady.

The British wildcard delighted the home crowd by knocking out Argentine No.12 seed Diego Swartzmann 6-2 4-6 0-6 7-6 (7-6) 6-1 .

Broady, the world No.132, lost 11 games in a row but recovered from 3-0 down in the fourth to force a tiebreak. He won that then swept the final set to win in 13 minutes shy of four hours.

It is the first time Broady, who now faces Aussie No.1 Alex de Minaur, has reached the third round of a grand slam.

Another young Brit, Alastair Gray, was less successful, losing in straight sets to 11th-seeded Taylor Fritz.

The American is, incidentally, now the highest-ranked player after Nadal in the bottom quarter of the draw.

That is partly because Denis Shapovalov's dreadful run of form continued with a four-set defeat to Californian Brandon Nakashima.

The Canadian 13th seed, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, has now lost six of his past seven matches. The only exception was his first-round win over a qualifier, world No.261 Nicola Kuhn, and even then he dropped a set.

For Nakashima, one of eight Americans in the last 32, it is his second successive grand slam third-round appearance, having reached the same stage in Paris.

Having backed up on grass his achievement on clay, the 20-year-old, already world No.56, is one to keep an eye on.

He now faces Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, who was handed a walkover when Roberto Bautista-Agut became the latest player to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.

Agut was the No.17 seed, making him the third top-20 player out through coronavirus after eighth-seeded 2021 finalist Matteo Berrettini and No.14 seed Marin Cilic, the 2017 runner-up.

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