Nadal secures No.1, Zverev crashes out of Wimbledon

Published by Leigh Rogers

TOO STRONG: Rafael Nadal had too many answers for Australian teen Alex De Minaur in the third round; Getty Images
Alexander Zverev joins the list of big names out of the tournament in the opening week, as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic continue their winning runs.

Rafael Nadal is into the fourth round at Wimbledon – and retains his No.1 ranking as a reward.

The Spaniard had too much firepower for rising Australian teen Alex De Minaur on day six, winning 6-1 6-2 6-4 in a Centre Court tussle. The result assures Nadal will remain No.1 after the tournament, even if rival Roger Federer wins the title.

“Of course I prefer to be No.1 than No.2, no doubt about this,” Nadal said.

“I really didn’t come here to hold No.1, I just came here to try to do the best tournament possible.

“It is very positive to be already in the second week, winning three matches.”

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World No.3 Alexander Zverev’s tournament is over, beaten in five sets by Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the third round.

The No.138-ranked qualifier posted a 7-6(2) 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-0 victory.

“I showed in Paris and other matches that I don’t really get tired in five-set matches. Today I definitely did,” Zverev admitted.

“It felt like somebody just unplugged me in the middle of the fourth set. There was no going back there for me… I actually thought I didn’t play that bad. I just started to feel very tired.”

Gulbis, a former world No.10, is the first qualifier since American Brian Baker in 2012 to reach Wimbledon’s round of 16. He’ll now face No.24 seed Kei Nishikori, who scored an impressive 6-1 7-6(3) 6-4 win over 15th seed Nick Kyrgios.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic ended the run of British hope Kyle Edmund, recording a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory.

“I thought it was a high-quality tennis match, to be honest,” Djokovic said.

“It was very, very, very intense. Just a couple points here and there.”

Djokovic held his nerve after a controversial umpire decision denied him a break of serve late in the fourth set.

“I was 100 per cent convinced it was a double bounce in the fourth set, but anyone can make a mistake,” Djokovic said.

He was not so forgiving of the British crowd, criticising their behaviour during the match.

“I expected them to support Kyle, obviously. But at times they were slightly unfair to me. That’s how it goes,” he said.

Djokovic faces Russian Karen Khachanov in the fourth round. The world No.40 fought back from a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to defeat American Frances Tiafoe 4-6 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2 6-1.

READ: World No.1 Halep eliminated in third round

Meanwhile fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro continues to quietly weave through the draw, overcoming tricky Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4 7-6(4) 6-3.

It sets up a fourth round meeting with another Frenchman – world No.53 Gilles Simon, who ended the run of Australia’s Matthew Ebden in four sets.

Yet del Potro, into the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time since a semifinal run in 2013, is playing down his title chances.

“I had my chances to win here a few years ago. I don’t know how far I will go in this tournament, but I’m confident with my game at this time. But I always say the same. Roger and Rafa are the favourites,” the Argentine said.

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