London, July 3 (IANS) Spanish stalwart Rafael Nadal wasted little time in securing his place in the Wimbledon fourth round by racing past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, demonstrating superb touches at the net to advance after two hours and four minutes.
“It was probably my best match without a doubt here at The Championships against the most difficult player I have faced yet,” Nadal was quoted as saying by atptour.com. “I was able to raise my level, so I am super happy for that. I wish Lorenzo all the very best for the rest of the season,” added Nadal, who is aiming for his third singles title at Wimbledon and a record-extending 23rd major.
The 36-year-old Nadal’s display was a contrast to his first two matches at Wimbledon, where he struggled to find his best level in four-set victories against Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina and Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania. However, against Sonego, the world No. 4 showed his title rivals that he means business in his quest for a 23rd Grand Slam title.
“I made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days: the determination, the way that I managed to play more aggressive, going to the net plenty of times. “(I am) happy. It’s (a) good victory against a great player. Very happy for that.”
Nadal arrived in London having won the Australian and French Open this year and the 36-year-old will next play Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in a rematch of their recent Roland Garros clash as he looks to continue his unbeaten 2022 Slam record.
“He’s (van de Zandschulp) a player that has been improving unbelievably the last year. (It) was a good challenge in the French and I think he will be more, (difficult here),” Nadal said. “He’s a complete player with a lot of great things, and I need to keep going the way that I played today: playing aggressive and playing with the right energy. Let’s see. He’s a tough opponent, but we are in fourth round. That’s the way that it should be.
“I feel very lucky that I am still able to play at my age,” Nadal said. “I never thought that was going to happen 10 years ago. So just want to say thanks to all for supporting me.”
Sonego was aiming to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon for the second time, having enjoyed a run to that stage in 2021.