Rafael Nadal survives rematch duel in the second round
The Associated Press
LONDON — Uncle Toni’s reaction said it all.
This one meant a lot to him and to the tennis player he coaches, his top-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 of 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 (8-6), 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, the 6-foot-5 Rosol played an unrepentantly risky style that day, aiming for lines during a five-set victory.
Rosol engaged in some gamesmanship then, including moving around while waiting to receive serves and, Toni said, making noise as Rafael was hitting shots.
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. When Rosol broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set with a 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.”
Three seeded men lost, including No. 13 Richard Gasquet of France, who wasted nine match points and was beaten by 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios of Australia 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8. Winners included No. 5 Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 8 Milos Raonic of Canada, No. 9 American John Isner and No. 10 Kei Nishikori of Japan among the men, and past champions Serena Williams of the U.S. and Maria Sharapova of Russia among the women.
Nadal’s longtime rival, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, 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.