Wimbledon: Federer, Nadal ease into second week

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Rafael Nadal (L) and Roger Federer won in straight sets on Centre Court on Saturday to move into the second week at Wimbledon (Getty Images)
In back-to-back matches on Centre Court on Saturday, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal win in straight sets to move another step closer to a blockbuster semifinal meeting.

Roger Federer has kept tennis statisticians on their toes as he mopped up a few more records by trampling all over Lucas Pouille’s dreams in a rip-roaring 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon.

In the match before Federer’s on Centre Court, No.3 seed Rafael Nadal also took on a Frenchman – his opponent was former world No.5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – and also won in straight sets.

Nadal took apart Tsonga 6-2 6-3 6-2 and in the fourth round will meet either Dan Evans or Joao Sousa.

Federer on Saturday became the first player – man or woman – to notch up 350 match wins at the majors.

But as the father of two sets of twins, Federer seems to have a penchant for doing things in pairs and Saturday was no different as he also set a professional era record of reaching the last 16 for the 17th time – surpassing the previous benchmark he had shared with Jimmy Connors.

But the Swiss is unlikely to be popping champagne corks to celebrate either milestone as he has his eyes firmly set on a much, much bigger prizes – a record ninth Challenge Cup and a 21st Grand Slam title.

To get closer to that, however, he will first have to negotiate his way past Italian 17th seed Matteo Berrettini.

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Berrettini is among the most in-form grass-court players this season, having won the title in Stuttgart and reaching the semis in Halle. After saving match points to beat Diego Schwartzman in five sets, Berrettini has now won 11 of his 12 grass-court matches in 2019.

“I don’t know him very well on top of it. So that makes it a bit more tricky, as well,” Federer said of the Italian.

“I saw him play a little bit in Halle. Saw his run, of course, in Stuttgart. Now he’s backing it up here again. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’re sort of newer on the tour.

“I’m expecting a tough one. I hope he has no energy left after today (smiling). I’m sure he’ll recover. He’s young. I’m sure we’ll see a tough match on Monday I guess it is.”

Ruthless Nadal advances

The Spanish third seed was in command throughout the match and finished the contest in an hour and 48 minutes without conceding a single break point, sealing the result on his fourth match point with his 11th ace.

The victory was his 51st at the All England Club, equalling five-times champion Bjorn Borg in eighth place on the Open Era list for most Wimbledon men’s singles match wins.

“I think I played a great match. I was returning well, playing aggressively with the forehand and the backhand. I think I did a lot of things well,” Nadal said.

“Tsonga is someone you don’t want to face in the third round at Wimbledon. Every single day is a battle here. It’s not a surface I play a lot of matches on during the year.

“It’s important that after the tough draw I was able to find a way to be in the second week.”

Nadal broke early in the opening set to go 3-1 up as Tsonga struggled with his second serve, which allowed the Spaniard to control points and consistently approach the net to finish rallies.

Tsonga exhibited the odd flash of brilliance, with searing aces and a rare approach to the net after pushing Nadal behind the baseline, but a number of high-risk shots down the line did not come off for the Frenchman.

Despite the crowd urging the underdog on, Nadal earned a double break in the third set to consign Tsonga to defeat and book his place in week two.

“To be in the fourth round, any player (is) going to be tough,” Nadal added. “I need to be playing like today or a little bit better if possible.”

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