After reaching the semi-finals in 2018 and 2019, Rafael Nadal returns to winning ways at Wimbledon. The two-time champion reaches the round of 16 at the All England Club for the eighth time, remaining undefeated in the 2022 Majors.
Rafa claimed the 14th Roland Garros title a few weeks ago, and he paused before Wimbledon to rest his knee. The Spaniard did not get off to a convincing start at the All England Club, struggling heavily against lower-ranked rivals Francisco Cerúndolo and Ricardas Berankis.
Nadal dropped a set in both matches and needed six and a half hours to overcome those hurdles and advance to the third round. Rafa raised his level against Lorenzo Sonego, beating the Italian 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours to advance to the round of 16.
Nadal advanced to the round of 16 after beating Top 30 rival Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 in two hours and 21 minutes. The Spaniard played well on serve and return to open a 6-4, 6-2, 5-2 lead before the Dutchman rallied to reach a tie-break.
Nadal claimed it on the fourth match point to emerge on top and stay on the title trail. The Spaniard threw 29 game winners and 17 unforced errors, mastering his shots well and receiving two breaks. Nadal converted five of his 11 break point opportunities to control the scoreboard, and could have sealed the deal sooner.
Rafa served well in the first set and got a break at 5-4 to close it out and gain momentum. The Spaniard gave up six points on serve and defended a single break point opportunity. Nadal saved it in the opening game and broke the opponent in the next to take the lead after Van De Zandschulp's weak backhand.
Rafa served well in the next three service games to open a 5-2 gap and picked up another break in the eighth game after his opponent double faulted.
Roig opens up on Rafa Nadal
Regardless of what happens next, Rafael Nadal has enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2022 so far.
"When we got here, the first thing was to be able to compete because we had the foot treatment and didn't know how it would work. The first objective was to be in the second week and play better every day and now we are in the quarterfinals and can be happy.
At the moment, we are going well but have a quarterfinal with Fritz. When we arrived, we did not think about winning. I said that if we reached the second week, put Rafa among the favorites to win the tournament," Roig said. Roig praised the 22-time Grand Slam champion for improving his game as the tournament progressed, but also stated that he could do better.
"I have seen the last two games very well. There has been a lot of difference in terms of hitting the ball and dominating and being able to go forward. He has served well, but everything he does can be done better, especially on grass when it's your first tournament in three years," Roig added.