Rafael Nadal marches into third round of Wimbledon with four-set victory over Ricardas Berankis

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Rafael Nadal marches into the third round of Wimbledon after a rain-delayed four-set victory over Ricardas Berankis as world No 2’s bid to win a third successive Grand Slam keeps on track

  • Rafael Nadal beat Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round
  • Play was suspended for an hour in the fourth set on Centre Court because of rain 
  • Following this victory Nadal will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy in the third round

The man of many tics just keeps ticking over. We are yet to see the best of Rafael Nadal at these championships, not even close, but he is fidgeting and twitching his way through the generous half of the draw.

So far that has meant a four-set hobble past a Wimbledon debutant on Monday and another in this moderate slog against the limited weaponry of Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.

On paper, it will resemble decent progress, but on grass everything becomes a little more nuanced for Nadal, and conceding an aggregate of two sets and six service games to players with a combined ranking of 147 is less than intimidating. Novak Djokovic, the top seed at the other extreme of the ladder, won’t exactly be shuddering.

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Rafael Nadal secured his place in the third round of Wimbledon by beating Ricardas Berankis

Despite admitting he wasn't at his best, Nadal was still able to make progress at Wimbledon

Despite admitting he wasn’t at his best, Nadal was still able to make progress at Wimbledon 

The relief for Nadal is he has time to adjust to the green stuff under his chronically painful feet. That is because defeats and covid has stripped a number of the more serious contenders from the 36-year-old’s section, with the upshot being he wouldn’t meet anyone ranked higher than 11th seed Taylor Fritz before the semi-finals. If the winner of this year’s Australian and French Opens rediscovers previous form, of course.

It cannot be a good sign that Berankis, the world No 106, was able to trouble him so often in longer rallies, nor that he held advantages in both the second and third sets, the latter of which he won. While the match never felt as fraught as it briefly did against Francisco Cerundolo in the first round, the second seed’s forehand was out of sync and his error count of 39 was also on the high side.

But all is well that ends well and Nadal ended the match well – he will always have the gears for a quick getaway when needed.

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They weren’t necessary in the first set, which Nadal took with limited fuss, content to wait for the Lithuanian’s errors rather than casting any magic. Decisively, one of those mistakes came at 5-4 Nadal on break point, with a netted backhand from Berankis giving the two-time champion the set.

Nadal showed impressive composure as he managed to overcome Berankis in SW19

Nadal showed impressive composure as he managed to overcome Berankis in SW19

Berankis gave a good account of himself but he still wasn't able to secure victory over Nadal

Berankis gave a good account of himself but he still wasn’t able to secure victory over Nadal

Nadal's quest to win Wimbledon for the third time is still alive following his victory

Nadal’s quest to win Wimbledon for the third time is still alive following his victory

The picture in the second was different. Berankis, 32, raised his level in the early parts and Nadal did not. He was tamely broken for 2-1, but was making enough dents on his opponent’s serve to remain comfortable. After missing two chances at 2-1 to break back, he eventually did so at 3-2, and again at 5-4.

While that points towards soft control of the match, it was notable he had managed only three breaks from 13 points to do so. In the deeper end of the tournament he will need to be far more clinical; back in these early stages, it meant Berankis was never dead and buried.

In the fourth set play was suspended because of rain and it didn't resume for an hour

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In the fourth set play was suspended because of rain and it didn’t resume for an hour

He showed as much by taking the third, with an immediate break at the start of the set and then getting within a point of a second at 3-1. Nadal didn’t force any for himself on his way to going down 6-4, but the wobble did serve to jolt him awake.

He broke to love in the second game of the fourth and after a rain delay at 3-0 he finished his opponent off under the roof. Next up is Lorenzo Sonego, the 27th seed, and a harsher test of where the 22-time Slam champion stands.

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