Rafa Nadal secured his place in the third round and while he dropped a set, he never really looked threatened by Ricardas Berankis’s efforts to derail his progress towards a third Wimbledon title which would be the third leg of a possible Calendar Grand Slam.
I need to improve, but I think that the fourth set was much better, I think there was a good level of tennis in that fourth set. I served much better at the end of the match, and I was able to play a little bit more aggressively with the forehand Rafa Nadal
Nadal brushed past Berankis 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-3 but will still have to improve his future performances if he is to realise those goals at the end of next week.
Nadal won the first set whilst he was still trying to settle into his usual rhythm, misfiring quite a few times as he fought off a spirited opponent.
The Mallorcan was stunned early in the second when he was broken in turn but immediately replied by taking three consecutive games to lead 4-3 and maintained his momentum to go two sets up on his fourth set point.
Berankis could well have folded at this stage but to his credit, the Lithuanian picked himself up and took the game to Nadal, breaking the second seed in the first game to give him a very timely confidence booster.
And he continued to harass Nadal to go 5-3 up with a wonderful forehand winner to set himself up to take the set.
That in turn galvanised Nadal who responded in typical fashion with some aggressive play from the start of the fourth, breaking to love in the second game.
Two games on Berankis saved two break points to avoid a double break, however, as he reached the ‘ad’ point in the fourth game, play was temporarily suspended by the arrival of rain which eventually led to a 53-minute break ending with the roof finally being closed.
On their return, Berankis won his unfinished game with a second serve ace but it was too little too late.
However he didn’t throw in the towel and kept himself in the match by hanging on to his serve while hoping for a slip by Nadal, which never came.
“Well, everyday is a challenge, that’s the truth,” Nadal said in his on-court interview.
“All the opponents are difficult, we are playing against the best players in the world, and especially in these conditions, a little bit more.
“I didn’t play much on grass in the last three years, so everyday is an opportunity to improve and today I am through, so that has given me the chance to keep going, so I’m happy for that.
“I need to improve, but I think that the fourth set was much better, I think there was a good level of tennis in that fourth set. I served much better at the end of the match, and I was able to play a little bit more aggressively with the forehand.
“At the beginning, there were too many mistakes. But, as a process, it’s important for me to accept that things are not perfect and keep working, being humble and accept the challenge and just think positive things all the time, even when things are not going the best way possible.”
Nadal now faces Lorenzo Sonego in round three after the Italian beat Hugo Gaston of France 7-6(4) 6-4 6-4 and no doubt the Spaniard will hope his game will continue to improve the deeper he goes.