Rafael Nadal was kept on Centre Court longer than he would have liked but that did not stop him from putting baby-faced Alex de Minaur firmly in his place with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Alicante-based Australian played his part in an entertaining duel as he chased after everything Nadal could throw at him but the world number one stuck to his own game plan to chalk up his third successive straight-sets win.
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Nadal has endured his fair share of losing to young upstarts at Wimbledon, having lost to players ranked 100 or lower in four of his five previous appearances, but there was no danger of that happening on Saturday.
His main target appeared to be getting off court before the 3pm local time kickoff of England’s World Cup last-16 showdown with Sweden.
De Minaur made him play 26-minutes of extra time but the final result was never in doubt and a lunging volley winner sealed the win – and prompted a mass exodus from Centre Court as fans rushed to watch the football on their phones and tablets elsewhere in the grounds.
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The Spaniard will next play either Italian maverick Fabio Fognini or Jiri Vesely as he bids to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since contesting the 2011 final.
Del Potro wins
Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro overcame service troubles and Benoit Paire’s fine serve-and-volley game to beat the Frenchman 6-4 7-6(4) 6-3 on Court Two and reach the fourth round.
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The big Argentine world number four, who has yet to drop a set, looked on for a routine win before meeting sterner resistance in the second set from Paire, who delighted the crowd with his drop shots and a break of serve to go 4-2 up.
Del Potro, a semi-finalist in 2013, immediately broke back after a slip by Paire and fears he might have hurt his heavily bandaged knee, but the Frenchman resumed and saw the set through to the tiebreak, but lost it 7-4.
The 47th-ranked Paire, who reached the fourth round last year and won his only previous meeting with Del Potro in Rome in 2013, then had a rant at the umpire after a successful challenge to an out call.
“What are you doing, it was right on the line,” he shouted evidently unimpressed with the umpire’s calls.
Del Potro, looking for a second Grand Slam title after the U.S. Open in 2009, marched into a 3-0 lead in the deciding set only to allow Paire back to 3-3 with a broken service game that included three double faults.
However, the Argentine, who had problems throughout the match serving into the sun at the northern end of the court, broke again and took it in straight sets.
Meanwhile, former runner-up Milos Raonic returned to finish off Austrian qualifier Dennis Novak (7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5, 6-2) and book his place in the fourth round.
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