Rafa Rolls Into Third Round
The World No. 1 showed no intentions of letting that happen again on Thursday. Nadal defeated Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 , setting a third-round meeting against #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur, who is into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
If Nadal beats De Minaur, he will retain his No. 1 ATP Ranking on 16 July. But if the Aussie springs the upset on the hallowed grass, and Roger Federer goes on to win his ninth Wimbledon crown, the Swiss will climb to the top spot.
"He's good. He's young. He's dangerous. Good player. So let's see, it's a good challenge for me," Nadal said. "I am very happy the way that I played today. That's going to be a good energy to play the next round."
Nadal owns 14 consecutive victories, and has triumphed in 28 of his past 29 matches. With his second victory against Kukushkin at the All England Club, Nadal now leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-0, and has claimed 10 of their 11 sets.
The 30-year-old put forth a good effort, though, forcing Nadal to work on Centre Court. Kukushkin recovered from a 0-3 deficit in the first set with aggressive, flat groundstrokes. The World No. 77 even captured a 3-1 lead in the third set, but Nadal's unrelenting focus was too much for the Kazakh to handle.
The 32-year-old won just 64 per cent of his first-serve points in the match, with Kukushkin preventing him from consistently stepping well into the court, but Nadal did well to claim 71 per cent of his second-serve points. Five breaks of serve allowed the second seed to move through in straight sets after two hours, 23 minutes.
Czech Jiri Vesely is one win away from reaching the Wimbledon fourth round for the second time (2016) after a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over Diego Schwartzman, the No. 14 seed from Argentina, in two hours and 13 minutes. He now plays No. 19 seed Fabio Fognini, who beat fellow Italian Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in just under two hours.
Did You Know?
The left-handed Spaniard, who recently captured his 11th trophy at Roland Garros, is attempting to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year for the third time. If the 32-year-old is able to accomplish the feat, he will match Bjorn Borg’s all-time record of three back-to-back titles at the clay-court and grass-court Grand Slams.