'Rafael Nadal has done that for 20 years, nothing to do with luck,' says his rival

“Rafael Nadal has been doing this for 20 years, it has nothing to do with luck,” says his rival

Rafael Nadal secured his 14th Roland Garros crown in June and hoped for more at Wimbledon a few weeks later. Appearing at the All England Club for the first time since 2019, Nadal did not play at his best in the first game against Francisco Cerundolo.

The Spaniard defeated the young Argentine 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 after a grueling three hours and 33 minutes to secure a place in the second round. Nadal finished the match with 23 winners and 41 unforced errors, struggling to put his shots through and losing ground after missing the first serve.

Rafa fended off 14 of 18 break points and delivered six breaks from 14 opportunities to go ahead and avoid an early setback. Cerundolo praised Nadal’s ability to find the lines with his serve whenever he needed it.

The Argentine wasn’t surprised either, telling his coach that Rafa has been doing this for two decades. Nadal fended off four out of five break chances in the opening set, delivering two breaks to bring it home in 54 minutes despite a pale performance.

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. He stole half of the first serve return points and claimed a single break that made the difference.

Rafa saved a break point in game five and capitalized on the rival’s error in the next to forge a 4-2 lead. Cerundolo fended off two set points on serve in game eight to reduce the deficit before Nadal held at love 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 42 minutes.

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 to lock the score at 2-2 and get a boost. 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 Francisco 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 ninth game turned out to be a rollercoaster ride with set and break chances everywhere.

Cerundolo denied two break chances and grabbed the third set ball to make it 6:3 and swing. The Argentine converted the fifth break chance in the third game of the fourth set to move in front and seemed determined to force a decider.

He saved break points in the next and had four more chances that could have put him 4-1 up! Nadal worked hard to deny them and stayed within a break deficit. The Spaniard increased his level from 2-4 and pulled the break back in game eight to secure the result at 4-4.

He stopped a few minutes later and sent the pressure to the other side. Nadal returned at 5-4 and grabbed the desired break that sent him over the top and delivered four straight games to emerge at the top. “I was very surprised by Rafa’s serve.

You might think he’s putting it up or throwing it upside down. Nevertheless, I was surprised by his placement: He served at all important moments on the line, on the debut or when holding a break point. After the game I told my coach that it has nothing to do with luck. Rafa has been doing this for 20 years,” said Francisco Cerundolo.

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