LONDON – It is a rainy day at Wimbledon, but Centre Court closed its glorious roof and allowed Rafael Nadal to defeat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in a thrilling match.
Grass is not Nadal’s strongest surface and it shows in the first set. He was horrendous–all over the place and terrible returns. In fact, Kukushkin looked like the number-two seed in the tournament as he capitalized on Nadal’s mistakes.
But Nadal found his fire and literally flew through the next three sets. Kukushkin only received two chances to break Nadal, but failed each time. Nadal broke Kukushkin seven out of eighteen times. It was Nadal’s ability to play the net that shined. He won 93% of his net points and performed a few perfect volleys to throw off Kukushkin.
Nadal needs to find the spark he exhibited in sets two to four because he will play against either Nick Kyrgios or Jiri Vesely. Kyrgios, the outstanding Australian teenager, ran down thirteen seed Richard Gasquet. Vesely, another young player, demolished 24-seed Gael Monfils.
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