Rafael Nadal returned to Wimbledon this year after skipping the previous edition in 2021. It was Nadal’s first official game since the Roland Garros final and the Spaniard struggled to find his rhythm. Rafa prevailed over Franciscso Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in three hours and 33 minutes to secure a place in the second round.
Nadal knew it wasn’t the best performance. Still, he reminded everyone that he hadn’t ridden that surface for a few years. Discussing the Wimbledon match, Cerundolo praised the Spaniard’s serve, which almost always hit the line at crucial moments.
Rafa was miles from his best in the opening set, struggling on serve two while trying to follow through with his shots. The Spaniard was two out of ten after missing the first and he hit four winners and 14 unforced errors! Nevertheless, it was enough to make it 6: 4 after four out of five breakballs were fended off and two revenge games were delivered.
Nadal opened a 3-1 gap before Cerundolo broke him in the next to get back on the positive side. Faced with an ultimate challenge in game nine, Rafa fended off three break points and converted the second break chance into the next to make it 6-4 in 54 minutes.
The Spaniard upped his level in set number two, dropping just seven points in his games to keep the pressure on at the other end. The 22-time Major winner stole half of the first-serve return points and claimed a single break that made the difference.
Rafa fended off that lone break point in game five and capitalized on the rival’s mistake in the next to make it 4-2. Cerundolo saved two set points on serve in game eight to reduce the deficit before Nadal went 6-6 in an hour and 42 minutes. 4, 6-3 held at love.
With a boost on his side, Rafa broke in the third game of the third set to get closer to the finish line. Francisco broke back a few minutes later with a return winner on serve to seal the score at 2-2 and improve his chances.
Nadal landed an erratic volley to set up two break points in game eight, saving the first with a forehand crosscourt winner.
Rafael Nadal defeated Franciscso Cerundolo at Wimbledon in the first round.
Rafa grabbed a backhand the second time around, falling 5-3 behind and allowing his rival to serve for the set.
The tenth game was a rollercoaster ride with set and break chances everywhere. Cerundolo denied two break chances and grabbed the third set point to 6:3 and a boost. The Argentine converted the fifth break chance in the third game of the fourth set to take the lead.
He saved break points in the next and had four more chances that could have put him 4-1 ahead. Nadal dug deep to deny them and stay within a break deficit. The Spaniard took his level down from 4-2 and pulled the break back in game eight to set the score at 4-4.
He stopped a few minutes later and sent the pressure to the other side. Rafa broke again in game ten to win four straight games and advance to the next round. “I was very surprised by Rafa’s serve. You might think he sets it up or throws it upside down.
Still, I was surprised by his placement: he served on the line at all the important moments, whether it was a debut or a break point save,” said Francisco Cerundolo.