Indiana, PA - Indiana County

WIMBLEDON: Nadal ends skid on grass

by HOWARD FENDRICH AP Tennis Writer on June 25, 2014 10:50 AM

LONDON — Chasing a shot to his right, Rafael Nadal slipped and tumbled to the Centre Court turf. He popped up, raced across the baseline to get back into the point, and later capped the 14-stroke exchange with a backhand passing winner.

The reason for the two-time Wimbledon champion’s recent inability to play well on grass remains something of a mystery. As far as Nadal was concerned Tuesday, all that mattered was that he dusted himself off and eventually ended a three-match — and seven-set — losing streak on the slick surface.

Overcoming a deficit against a flat-hitting opponent who kept finding lines early, Nadal beat 51st-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round. Nadal’s reaction afterward — pumping fists, raising arms aloft, tossing souvenirs to the crowd — was rather over-the-top for a guy who owns 14 Grand Slam titles.

“So happy for the victory. In the end, the match was difficult. After the first set, (it) was even more difficult,” said the Spaniard, who is ranked No. 1 and seeded No. 2.

Next for Nadal is a match against the man who beat him in 2012’s second round, Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.

Today, five-time champion Venus Williams overcame a slow start to beat Kurumi Nara 7-6 (4), 6-1 to reach the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 Grand Slam tournaments.

The 30th-seeded American won six straight points in the tiebreaker and ran off six straight games in the second set to beat Nara.

Williams, a winner of seven Grand Slam titles, lost in the first round in her last appearance at Wimbledon in 2012.

Also advancing was second-seeded Australian Open champion Li Na, who beat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.

Also, the man who shocked Roger Federer at Wimbledon a year ago, Sergiy Stakhovsky, pulled off another surprise.

The 90th-ranked Stakhovsky used the same serve-and-volley style that worked against Federer in 2013 to beat 12th-seeded Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) and get to the third round.

Last year, seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer’s streak of 36 consecutive major quarterfinals ended with a loss in the second round to Stakhovsky, who then lost his next four Grand Slam matches in a row.

Other past champions in action Tuesday advanced, too, including Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, all in straight sets. Last year, when everything around these parts was turned upside down by surprise after surprise, that trio joined Nadal with early exits; Williams was the last of the group standing, and she departed in the fourth round.

Williams needed to cast aside four break points during a 10-minute first game Tuesday, but after getting that out of the way, breezed to a 6-1, 6-2 win against Anna Tatishvili. Sharapova lost all of one game against British wild-card entry Samantha Murray.

Seven-time champion Federer’s 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory dropped Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi to 0-13 for his Grand Slam career, while 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt eliminated Michal Przysiezny of Poland 6-2, 6-7 (14), 6-1, 6-4.

“This is what I still play for,” said the 33-year-old Hewitt, a former No. 1 now ranked 48th after a series of injury issues. “You do all the hard work to come back and play in places like this. You don’t get sick of coming out here and playing at Wimbledon.”

One seeded man who lost was No. 29 Ivo Karlovic, beaten by Canada’s Frank Dancevic 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

Seeded women on the way out were No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, the 2008 U.S. Open runner-up; No. 28 Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time major champion who lost to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; and No. 29 Sorana Cirstea, who was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 by 18-year-old qualifier Vicky Duval of the United States.

Another U.S. teenager, wild-card entry Taylor Townsend, lost to No. 31 Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-2, but otherwise there was a strong showing by Americans. No. 9 John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla, Madison Keys and Varvara Lepchenko advanced.

For Nadal, everything comes so easily on red clay, and he just added his record ninth trophy at the French Open. But he says grass is a lot tougher on his knees, which have bothered him off and on for years.

“When I am playing on clay, I don’t have to think a lot about what I have to do,” Nadal said. “Here, you need to adjust the movement. You need to adjust the rhythm. You need to find the right feeling on the speed of the ball.”

Still, Nadal used to be fine on the green stuff.

He played for the title on five consecutive trips to Wimbledon from 2006-11, winning the championship in 2008 and 2010 (he missed the tournament in 2009 because of a knee injury). But in 2012, he lost to then-100th-ranked Rosol. Last year, Nadal exited in the first round against 135th-ranked Steve Darcis. And this month, Nadal lost his opening match at a grass-court tuneup in Halle, Germany, to 65th-ranked Dustin Brown.

For a little more than a set Tuesday, Nadal ran into trouble again on grass. This time, he turned things around.

Next Article
Back-to-school sale planned at church
June 25, 2014 10:45 AM
Related Articles
Comments
Disclaimer: Copyright © 2014 Indiana Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.