Wimbledon: Nadal and Sharapova sent packing

MUKUND PADMANABHAN LONDON | Updated on March 13, 2018

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Special Arrangement   -  Wikipedia

Rafael Nadal. File Photo.

Maria Sharapova. File Photo.   -  The Hindu

Nick Kyrgios, who has never progressed beyond the second round of a Grand Slam event, beat Rafael Nadal 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who has never progressed beyond the second round of a Grand Slam event, lived up to his reputation of being a potential giant-killer taking down Rafael Nadal 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

Riding on the back of what is possibly the most powerful serve in men’s tennis today, Kyrgios rained a succession of aces to keep Nadal at bay, and then came out on top in two critical tie-breakers.

Although the big 19-year was unable to break Nadal in the first three sets, he managed to hold serve himself, often under great pressure, pulling out big aces when required.

Although a little tardy at the net, where Nadal passed him time and again, he has the ground-strokes on either flank to mark him out as a young man to watch.

While Nadal was clearly able to outplay him from the baseline, Kyrgios used the tie-breaker to turn hyper-aggressive and unsettle the No.2 seed, most vividly by stepping into Nadal’s second serve for a huge and uninhibited winner that gave him the third set.

It was in the fourth set that Kyrgios managed it break Nadal. From 3-1, there was no looking back. Although Nadal served well from there on, there was no breaking Kyrgios as he served the match out at 5-3.

Setting up three match points, he sent Nadal spinning out of the tournament with a crushing ace, his 37th, a fitting way to end a match that will be remembered, above all, for his devastating serve.

Meanwhile, in an age when power has trumped finesse, the man who reminds us that tennis can still be a very beautiful thing eased into the quarterfinals with a performance of deliberate and unfaltering brilliance.

Roger Federer’s surgical 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tommy Robredo would have been dismissed as a hopelessly one-sided match had another player registered this facile a victory.

But Federer, who has a way of challenging the boundaries of tennis when he is in full and majestic control, showed us why he has more Grand Slams and more significant tennis records than any other man in the history of the game.

This is a match that will be remembered more for a few astonishing strokes than the bottom-line — for instance, the stop volley off his shoelaces in the first set, the heart-stopping drop shot of a good return-of-serve from mid-court in the third, and the backhand lob at full stretch that had Robredo stranded and staring in dull incomprehension.

The seven-time champion also emphasised that he has had an extraordinary Wimbledon so far, signalling that it may be too hasty to write him off as a 32-year-old who has seen better days. The fourth seed has not dropped a set so far, and has not had his serve broken even once yet.

The other 32-year-old he faced today on Court 1 found the contest slipping away from the very first game, which Federer wrapped up to love. Niggling doubts that Robredo could challenge Federer, which stemmed from the latter’s shock defeat at the US Open vanished as The Swiss broke twice to take the first set 6-1.

The 6-4 score-line in the second may have suggested that Robredo was putting up something of a fight. But the statistics at the end of this set revealed that he had managed to win a mere three of the 39 points on Federer’s serve so far, and not a single one in the second set!

Also, Federer had won every time he approached the net.

It was only in the third set that Federer’s serve came under some pressure, but he pulled back from break points with ease. In all, he won 61 of his 75 service points, and as many as 29 points at the net.

In fact, his performance has been built around his serve, and his greater confidence in approaching the net — a strategy that must owe to his new coach Stefan Edberg, who was one of the world’s finest serve-and-volleyers.

There have also been fewer mistakes on the forehand cross-court — a huge weapon in his heyday but one that has become increasingly error-ridden in recent times.

How far Federer — who next faces his compatriot Stan Wawrinka — progresses, could depend on how well his forehand functions.

Earlier on Centre Court, Germany’s Angelique Kerber overcame Maria Sharapova in a hard-hitting brawl of an encounter, winning 7-6(4), 6-4, -4.

( This news article was first published in >The Hindu)

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Published on July 02, 2014
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