LONDON (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal has made a habit this week of giving himself a tough start and in Saturday’s third round he again handed the first set to a lowly opponent before imposing himself at Wimbledon.
The French Open champion, still apparently finding his grass court feet after the long claycourt season, moved into the fourth round with a 6-7(4) 6-1 6-1 6-1 victory over 63rd-ranked Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.
Kukushkin, 26, had never won a game at Wimbledon before this year but, with little to lose against the world number one, came out guns blazing, using a big first serve and pounding forehand to keep the Spaniard at bay and win the first-set tiebreak.
But it did not last. As soon as Nadal found his returning rhythm and stepped in to punish Kukushkin’s second serve it was one way traffic. The 14-times grand slam champion reached Wimbledon’s second week for the first time since 2011 with a forehand winner.
Reporting by Clare Lovell; editing by Ken Ferris