(June 28, 2014) WIMBLEDON – While rain suspended play on the outer courts on Saturday, under the roof at Centre Court, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal dropped the first set for the third striaght match, but rebounded for a 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win over Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon.
In the opening set the Kazakh, played powerful tennis, kept pace with Nadal, giving the world No.1 all he could handle. Both men stood toe-to-toe until the tiebreak.
The first three points of the tiebreak went against serve, giving Kukushkin the immediate advantage. He went on the take the tiebreak 7-4.
:I am a good first set player,” Nadal said. “I think my opponent played great the first set today and I think I was playing fine. He played fantastic. The only thing that I did not good in the first set was some returns with the second serve that I make a few mistakes with his second serve.
“And then in the tiebreak I didn’t serve well, didn’t serve enough well. Then I give him the opportunity to attack me with the second serve, my second serve. He did well. He was playing great.
“Accept that the match is long. Accept that if he is able to play like this for three sets I will be in trouble. But always waiting that I can improve one step. If I improve one step, I can be there. I think I did.”
Kukushkin hit 17 winners with five aces in the first set.
The tide took a tremendous turn for the Spaniard, whose game picked up. After 1-1 in the second set, Nadal won 11 of the next 12 games to take the next two sets 6-1, 6-1.
Nadal hit 10 winners and made only 2 unforced errors in the second set. He won 31 out of 47 points in the set. Nadal was two for three on break points.
Nadal opened the third set with a break and held to go up 2-0. Seven straight games until Kukushkin could hold to break the string of games against him. An additional break in the fifth game extended Nadal’s lead to 4-1 and a hold for 5-1 and another break gave him the set.
The fourth set saw more of the same dominance from 14-time major champion. He hit 27 winners in the match with and won 92 percent of his points at the net.
Nadal is now 187 – 24 in grand slam matches.
Nadal will play ATP youngster Nick Kyrgios in the round of 16.