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Nadal pulls pick and shovel against Berankis


The Spaniard dispatches a sticky rival in a very laborious afternoon (6-4, 6-4, 4-6 and 6-3, after 3h 02m), saves another round and will face the Italian Sonego on Saturday

Rafael Nadal takes a deep breath, loads his cheeks and snorts loudly as sweat trickles down his temples and heads for the corner.

There, old fox, he turns around and takes advantage of the pause to dry off and exchange a couple of impressions with his bench, where his team frowns in unison and tries to convey patience because in front of them there is a rambunctious tennis player, short –1.75 is a few centimeters in this tennis–, Lithuanian and thirtysomething (32) that requires him to win each and every one of the points that are settled this Thursday in the central London.

In the end, the champion of 22 majors snorts again, but this time in relief: 6-4, 6-4, 4-6 and 6-3, after 3h 02m.

Now, after the long-suffering victory in the premiere against Francisco Cerúndolo, he has run into a bone again.

Ricardas Berankis did not come for a walk.

This is Wimbledon, and each parade down the track is an entry into the maze.

There is no truce or pause, but a lot of speed and a lot of vertigo, so Nadal – quoted on Saturday with Lorenzo Sonego (54th) in an unprecedented pulse – does not finish finding relief and cannot spare the slightest to unravel a sticky, demanding duel awkward from start to finish.

These are the first rounds and there is a lack of tone, but he already warned on Tuesday, after surrendering to the Argentine: this is about surviving.

One more day, one season less.

The Mallorcan does it, forced to chew the exchanges like a ruminant, and he crosses the third threshold of the tournament in a progressive line, although still far from that sweet spot that he reached in the last three editions.

His plan, in any case, follows the desired parameters.

More information

Nadal suffers Cerúndolo on his return to London

In the absence of brilliance, Nadal clings to each training session and each racket stroke.

Don't let your guard down.

Should not.

In other circumstances and another territory, Berankis (32 years old, 106th in the world) should not represent anything more than a Chinese in the shoe, but on green everything is different and the memory sensor does not allow him to relax.

Look straight ahead, see the Lithuanian and activate all your senses because there are those two dangerous precedents;

when he knocked him out in the first round in 2013, Belgian Steve Darcis was 144th, and when Australian Nick Kyrgios did it a year later he was 144th.

I mean, no joke.

Nadal sharpens his gaze, puts on the white jumpsuit and entrusts himself to the spirit of the day laborer, shovel goes, shovel comes.

No alternative.

“Do you have bananas?”

, his rival asks the referee to eat potassium and calories to keep up the pressure, erre que erre.

Low gravity point and a good wrist, Berankis is a nuisance.

He doesn't give in even to shots.

It happens that the Spaniard does not want any entanglements and tries to impose a control situation, a flat script that he manages to capture in the first set and maintain in the second, but not in the third.

The stress never ends.

In the fourth, however, he overflows with the gear change.

At the moment of truth, Nadal accelerates and resolves, but it has been a rough and hard-fought afternoon, the restlessness translated into that ball that he kicks and that other one that he shakes angrily because he tries to find the automatisms, but these they resist.

He tries to hone in on his forehand and backhand, do more damage on serve, and on a few occasions hesitates in his shot selection.

Vintage @RafaelNadal 🍷

Just when you think you've got him on the ropes...#Wimbledon |


— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 30, 2022

London, grass and times: the key.

Each hit is a dilemma and must be resolved in milliseconds.

Every maneuver is a puzzle.

To make matters worse, at the last minute the rain intervened and stopped the game for 50 minutes, when he had already given the arreón and had opened a gap (3-0).

Wimbledon does not forget the traditions: downpour, umbrellas and tarps.

The rhythm is broken.

Racing around the plant and stampeding up the hill to Aorangi Park, where the picnic ends and everyone scrambles for cover.

Good old Berankis does not find it, who after a commendable exercise of resistance and intention, ends up opening the way.

Nadal claims it and crosses out another date on the calendar, then he is five steps away from making another summit.

The victory (307 in the Grand Slams) allows him to stand out in the history of Martina Navratilova (306) and maintain the aspiration of equaling the iceman, Björn Borg, that blonde-haired alien who linked five consecutive wins in London and, I have here the objective of the Balearic Islands, he achieved on three occasions (1978, 1979 and 1980) the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double in the same season.

"Every day is a challenge," he emphasizes after three hours without respite.

“I need to improve”, he specifies when asked what he has done well.

“I have to accept that things are not going to be perfect and keep working”, he concludes towards the crossing with the Italian Sonego, aware that these are pick and shovel days.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2022-06-30

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