Wimbledon 2022: Rafael Nadal sneaks past Ricardas Berankis to 3rd round
- Rafael Nadal sneaks past Ricardas Berankis to 3rd round
- It was an uncharacteristically hassle-some affair for Rafa
- In the end the second seed prevailed 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
The second seed prevailed 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the third round, but his 307th Grand Slam match wins, one ahead of Martina Navratilova and fourth all-time, will not stick with him for long.
An off-key Nadal never appeared in real danger of having his calendar-year Slam campaign derailed by the world number 106, but he knows he'll have to play much better in the coming stages to win his third Wimbledon crown.
The numbers rather spoke the story, with Nadal making 39 uncharacteristic mistakes to 35 winners.
Lithuanian Berankis hit the ball deftly and matched Nadal for lengthy stretches, but he gave away a gritty first set by handing over his serve at the worst possible time when he trailed 5-4.
The Centre Court crowd presumably anticipated Nadal to fly through the gears then, but his groundstrokes lacked the usual zip, and he had to recoup a break of serve in the second set as he fought for survival.
Berankis broke serve again early in the third set, this time with a lovely backhand, and had a point for the double break and a 4-1 lead. Nadal escaped this, but was unable to find the way to regain the break of serve, and was required to play some extra as a progressively assured Berankis held serve to love at 5-4.
It was the second time in two matches that Nadal had dropped the third set after winning the first two, but he retaliated by dominating 12 of the first 13 points of the fourth set for a 3-0 lead, only to be halted when rain forced a delay as the roof was extended across the court.
When play restarted nearly an hour later, the 106th-ranked Berankis held serve three times and participated in some exciting baseline battles, but Nadal was a man in a rush and finished the match with his 13th ace.
With so many top seeds already eliminated, the lower half of the draw appears inviting for Nadal, but Italian 27th seed Lorenzo Sonego could provide a test of his attitude and fitness on Saturday.