Nadal admits he’s not at his best but it’s enough to see off Berankis in four sets after 50-minute rain delay

By Paul Lagan on Centre Court, Wimbledon

Nadal v Berankis 

6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Rafa Nadal saw off the challenge posed by an agile and powerful opponent in Ricardas Berankis, beating the Lithuanian in four sets.

The match was delayed by almost an hour due to a downpour through the open roof but by then, the Spaniard had built up a 3-0 lead in the fourth set.

When play resumed, play was almost equal, but Nadal just did everything a little better than Berankis.

This meant he was never going to break Nadal to force a possible tie-breaker and that gave Nadal even more confidence.

His serving improved with a slew of aces, that eventually overwhelmed the man on the other side of the net.

Nadal is not still not 100 per comfortable on grass.

He said: “I have not played much on grass recently and every day is tough.

My serve was much better in the fourth set and I was able to play more aggressively.

“Things are not perfect but I need to be humble and accept the challenge.”

Nadal occasionally takes his time to get warm at Wimbledon, and against Berankis, he seemed to be in that kind of mood.

He won the first set 6-4, but it was a very pedestrian encounter on Centre Court.

The Spaniard was surprisingly broken in the third game of the second set, and that provided a little spark to get the multi-slam winner going.

But it was short-lived and the 22-year-old held his serve to go 3-1 up.

Nadal finally got the blood flowing in his ageing legs and started to push Berankis around the court.

It worked and he broke the right-hander.

Games continued to go with serve until the 10th game when Nadal had two set points on Berankis’s serve.

Some brilliant play saw the Lithuanian produce a winner, then Nadal netted to make it deuce. Another cross-court backhand zipped past Berankis for a third set point.

Again Nadal failed to get a return of serve in court.

The best rally of the match then saw Nadal crash away his point to give him a fourth set point.

Which he finally got, forcing Berankis to hit the ball down the line, but just the wrong side of it.

Berankis started the third as if it could be his last, which it could and swiftly broke Nadal and held his serve to go 2-0 up.

Games continued to go with serve with Nadal struggling to get a handle on Berankis’s service games.

Despite a tigerish display from Nadal, it wasn’t enough to translate into point and a break, and Berankis served out the set to make it 2-1 to Nadal.

The Spaniard refocused quickly, and broke quickly too and he raced to a 3-0 lead before the heavens opened up and, because the match was played in the open air, the match was suspended.

After around a 50-minute delay where the roof was closed, and excess water removed, play finally resumed at 7.38pm with the match having already run for two hours and 39 minutes.

With only a point needed to take his serve Berankis made no error. Neither did the subsequent game by Nadal.

Tension ramped up with Berankis holding his serve, despite going love 30 down, and when Nadal held his serve despite the odd misplaced drive and sublime cross-field winner by Berankis, meant the Lithuanian needed to hold his serve to stay in the match. 

Again from love 30, Berankis pulled it around, but now it was decision time. Nadal served for the match.

Two aces by Nadal saw off the love 15 and when Berankis failed to return his serve, Nadal served for the game, the set and the match – and he finished it off with his third ace of the game.

Rafael Nadal serves on the Centre Court against Ricardas Berankis Picture: Paul Lagan

 

 


 

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