2022 in Review: Rafael Nadal matches Martina Navratilova

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2022 in Review: Rafael Nadal matches Martina Navratilova

Competing at Wimbledon for the first time since 2019, two-time champion Rafael Nadal worked hard to reach the second round. Nadal did not play at his best on Centre Court, but it was enough to topple Francisco Cerundolo 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in three hours and 33 minutes.

The Spaniard secured his 306th triumph at Majors and matched Martina Navratilova. Rafa struggled to find the balance and his strokes, struggling on the second serve and hitting 23 winners and 41 unforced errors. Cerundolo created 18 break chances and seized only four, missing an opportunity to challenge Nadal even harder.

Rafa produced six breaks that carried him over the top despite an apparent struggle. Rafa was miles from his best in the opener, struggling on the second serve and while trying to impose his strokes. The Spaniard was two from ten after missing the first, hitting four winners and 14 unforced errors!

Still, it was enough for 6-4 after fending off four out of five break points and delivering two breaks from three opportunities.

Rafael Nadal defeated Francisco Cerundolo in the Wimbledon opening round.

Nadal opened a 3-1 gap before Cerundolo broke back in game five.

Facing an ultimate challenge in game nine, Rafa fended off three break points and gained a boost. He converted the second break chance in the next one with a backhand attack for 6-4 in 54 minutes. The Spaniard raised his level in the second set and dropped only seven points in his games.

A 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 with a service winner and stayed in touch in the next one.

The Argentine squandered game points and sprayed an error that pushed him 4-2 behind. Cerundolo fended off two set points on serve in game eight to reduce the deficit before Nadal held at love in the next one for 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 42 minutes.

With a boost on his side, Rafa broke in the third set's third game after the rival's loose forehand to move closer to the finish line. Francisco broke back at love a few minutes later with a return winner to lock the result at 2-2 and improve his chances.

Nadal landed a wayward volley to face two break points in game eight and saved the first with a forehand crosscourt winner. Rafa netted a backhand on the second to fall 5-3 behind and allow his rival to serve for the set. That ninth game turned into a roller coaster, with set and break points.

Cerundolo denied two break chances and seized the third set point for 6-3 and a boost. The Argentine converted the fifth break chance in the fourth set's game three to move in front. He saved break points in the next one and had four more opportunities that could have pushed him 4-1 ahead and closer to a decider.

Nadal dug deep to deny them and remain within one break deficit. The Spaniard raised his level from 4-2 down and pulled the break back in game eight to lock the result at 4-4 when the Argentine placed a forehand long. Nadal held in the ninth game and sent the pressure to the other side.

Rafa broke again in game ten after Francisco's poor backhand to rattle off four straight games and advance into the next round.

Rafael Nadal Martina Navratilova Francisco Cerundolo