by Helen Earnshaw |
Rafael Nadal came through his toughest test of his Wimbledon campaign as he finally saw off Gilles Muller.
The Spaniard was forced off court yesterday afternoon after winning the first set because of rain but was first on Court 1 today.
Muller had been a thorn in Nadal’s side since the beginning of his match as the world number one struggled to read his very accurate serve.
There were no breaks in the opening set - Muller squandering two chances in game twelve as Nadal battled back to level at 6-6 and force a tie break.
That too was a very tight affair with the world number one just edging it 8-6 - despite a fall which saw him twist his knee.
Nadal called for the trainer when the set was won and left the court to receive treatment - but he never returned as the heavens opened and play was suspended.
The pair returned to court one this afternoon and it was more of the same as neither player could make any inroads into the other’s serve.
Muller continued to look comfortable facing the top seed and defending champion and a tie break was needed when neither player faced a break point.
Muller had a couple of chances to steal a march on Nadal in the breaker but frustration started to set in when he pushed a forehand down the line wide.
Nadal took full advantage of this frustration as she closed out the second set break7-5 to take the second set.
From then on in it was one way traffic as Muller’s game ebbed away and Nadal finally got to grips with his serve.
Three breaks of serve later and Nadal had served up a bagel set to wrap up the match 7-6(8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 6-0.
Speaking to the ATP after the match Nadal said: The third set, two sets to love, I am able to play with less pressure.
"I started to return unbelievable and to play at very high level, I think."
But the defending champion faces a tougher test in the fourth round as he is set to face former world number four Juan Martin Del Potro.
The Argentinean also had to return to court this afternoon to finish his third round match with Gilles Simon after rain halted play.
De Potro came through in three very tight sets finally winning 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 to reach the fourth round for the very first time in his career.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw