Rafael Nadal showed his most solid face on Monday to almost seamlessly beat the Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp and get into the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the eighth time in his career (6-4, 6-2 y 7-6(8)).
Only in the last games of the third and final set did Nadal leave any doubt, after dispatching a more than convincing performance to eliminate a rival that until last September he was even among the top one hundred of the ATP.
At 36 years old, the Spaniard exhibited some moments of great tennisone of the best of his career this year in London, but even when he did not scratch at that level he knew how to keep the duel under control.
With that premise, that of attacking when he smells blood, the Manacorí managed to win the first set. All his rivals have seen him do it countless times throughout his career, but not for those. A first set that he cooked over low heat and in which his greatest efforts went into keeping his serve until, with 5-4 on the scoreboard, he perceived the rival’s weakness in service and attacked him until he broke him. . 6-4, and Everest emerging in front of Van de Zandschulp.
Nadal did not concede the first break ball until the first game of the second set. That was of little use to the 21st seed, who had to helplessly witness how the man from Manacor opened the jar of essences.
The second sleeve left some of the best shots of the Spanish in this edition, with the added merit of the three years that he had not competed on grass. A backhand passer achieved with an impossible turn of the wrist lifted the Central public and was celebrated by Rafa with rage. With that new break, the second set was already in the pocket.
A similar outcome awaited the third manga, with a bossy Nadal and capable of putting himself 5-2 up and the rest to settle the process. The unexpected happened. The Dutch giant, with nothing left to lose, proved that his fairy tale does not obey fortune.
Van de Zandschulp was almost unknown when he reached the quarters of the US Open from position 117 of the circuit. What could have been a mirage has been confirmed this year, even taking him to the top 25 in the world.
“Botic is a very good rival, who has improved a lot in the last year,” Nadal acknowledged in his remarks at the foot of the track as soon as the match was over.
The Dutchman managed to take the match to the tiebreaker game, where the man from Manaco needed up to four match points to finish securing a victory that, on the other hand, never seemed in doubt.