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Monday, August 8, 2022

The stunted Nadal takes flight

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Life is full of contrasts. And this last parade through La Catedral attests to that. There are certainly no more antagonistic characters in tennis than Rafael Nadal (6-4, 6-2 and 7-6(6), in 2h 22m) and Nick Kyrgios. The irrepressible Australian continues to make strides in London and after ditching Brandon Nakashima heading into the Quarters (4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6 and 6-2) he recounts: “The night before the game against Nadal here [en 2019], they had to get me out of a pub”. It refers to bad boy until the day when, before he measured himself against the Spaniards, a group of journalists saw him between beers and girls at the Dog & Fox, the bar a fifteen-minute walk from the All England Club. “My agent had to come and get me out of there. I’ve come from a long journey, that’s for sure,” emphasizes the man from Canberra.

Nadal travels the radically opposite path that slept that night dreaming of the possibility of conquering Wimbledon, one of the goals that excites him the most before putting his career on hold. That year Roger Federer deprived him of the pass to the final and later, between the pandemic and his foot, the Spaniard had to wait for this attack that looks better and better because the days go by, he advances laps, explains the picture and his performance shoots against Van de Zandschulp, the Dutchman he already beat at Roland Garros just over a month ago. From less to more, from discretion to brilliance, the Spaniard adjusts his size and starts showing his cards while a possible crossover with Kyrgios is hinted at on the horizon.

“Sometimes people forget, but this is my tenth year on the race track,” recalls the latter, who is the most threatening in the theoretical transition to the final on Sunday. “I feel like the guy who broke through at 19 and beat Rafa here at Wimbledon. [en 2014]. Somehow I showed the other young people that it’s possible. I was the first to break the mold. I feel like I showed that that day [Nadal] it was human,” he continues, while the fan imagines a hypothetical duel in the semifinals, still pure imagination. First, he would need to defeat Cristian Garín, which doesn’t look easy given his shoulder problems, and second, the Balearic must defeat Taylor Fritz.

“I’m still on a positive path, it was a very good game,” he says. “After what has happened in the last two months, it’s incredible to be in this situation,” says the Mallorcan, who at 36 years is the third tennis player in the Open Era (since 1968) to play in his Alter has reached the quarterfinals of the Great Briton. Federer and Australian Ken Rosewall did it before.

Following the logic that his time at the Grand Slams has expired, the Spaniard is positioning himself as the last stops draw near. After completing the adjustment process (Cerúndolo and Berankis) and this more or less dormant phase of his tennis in the first rounds, Nadal finds the point of play that interests him and reiterates the good feelings he gave against Lorenzo Sonego two days ago. That day ended lacklusterly by a mess with the Italian in the net, with noise, while the pulse with Van de Zandschulp (26 years old, 25th in the world, with no edges to speak of except for an isolated final in Munich in May) takes place in diesel format. Except for a dangerous slip on the last straight and the mistake that forces him to break in the tie-break – from 5-3 to 5-5 and a few ups and downs in the break – the rest is a breeze.

Nadal has already fine-tuned it, now it remains to be seen whether the level is sufficient to get rid of Fritz. The American is one of the three players, along with Carlos Alcaraz and Denis Shapovalov, who managed to beat him this season, although that victory is starred. On that day, the end of Indian Wells, the Mallorquin competed with a broken rib and still managed to stretch his pulse to the limit tie breaker. Both meet again tomorrow.

“He’s having a great year and won his first Masters 1000 right against me. But this is the quarterfinals of a big one, what can we expect?” He says at the foot of the track before leaving, without forgetting to mention the emotional act on Sunday, in which a parade of personalities, including himself, of the The central court commemorated the centenary: “It was a privilege because it is a special place”.

While the first wing of the quarter is set up, Novak Djokovic will debate Jannik Sinner (at 2.30 p.m., Movistar Deportes) and Cameron Norrie will debate David Goffin today.

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Source elpais.com

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