All went well for Rafael Nadal against Botic Van De Zandschulp on Monday until it was time to close out his fourth-round match at Wimbledon.
Serving for victory at 5-3 in the third set, Nadal broke for the second time in the match and then failed to convert three match points in a row as he led 6-3 in the tie break that followed.
That was the end of the Dutchman’s resistance, however, as Nadal converted his fourth match point for a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6) win on Center Court. The Spaniard is playing his first grass-court tournament since 2019, when he lost to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals. He is seeking his third Wimbledon title and has a chance at a Grand Slam in the calendar year after winning the Australian Open and French Open to take his career to a record 22 major titles.
“To be in the quarterfinals here at Wimbledon after three years without playing here, it’s unbelievable for me,” Nadal said. “Very very happy”.
Nadal will next face 11th seed Taylor Fritz, the only American left in the draw.
Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios returns to the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since making his debut in 2014 after improving his record in five-set matches at the All England Club to 6-0. Kyrgios overcame a shoulder injury and fourth-set slump to beat 20-year-old American Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-2.
Kyrgios needed treatment on his right shoulder several times during the match and broke it twice in a row in the fourth set.
But he took a 5-1 lead in the fifth and converted his first match point with a forehand volley. Despite the troublesome shoulder, Kyrgios finished with 35 aces.
And there was little antics or arguments from the Australian, unlike in his previous match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, when he repeatedly loudly argued with the chair umpire and was accused by his opponent of disrespecting him. Kyrgios also needed five sets to get past Paul Jubb in the first round.
Kyrgios was fined $10,000 for spitting in the direction of a booing spectator at the end of that first-round match and $4,000 for audible obscenity during his stormy win over Tsitsipas in the third round.
“I was able to just say, ‘Wow, look how far I’ve come,’ to myself. I was dribbling the ball before serving; I really put a smile on my face,” said Kyrgios, a senior club owner on Tour. 11 wins on grass this season. “I thought, ‘We’re here, we’re competing at Wimbledon, performing well mentally.’ It was rewarding.”
He will then face another unseeded player, Cristian Garin of Chile, who came from two sets down to beat Alex de Minaur.
Fritz, after three of his compatriots fell in the fourth round, ended that streak by beating qualifier Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Prix for the first time. Slam.
“I’m glad I was able to get the win on July 4, being an American,” Fritz said in an on-court interview.
It was Fritz’s eighth successive win on grass after winning a warm-up tournament at Eastbourne.
Garin came from behind from two sets and saved two match points in the fifth before beating de Minaur to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
The unseeded Chilean trailed 5-3 in the fifth-set tiebreak before winning six points in a row to take a 9-5 lead. He then converted his second match point to advance 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(6) after 4 hours and 34 minutes.
He is the first Chilean to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since Fernando González in 2009.
The 19th-seeded De Minaur had never lost a set against Garin in three previous meetings and looked set to continue that streak when he led 3-1 in the third-set tiebreak. The Aussie then had two match points at 5-4 in the fifth.
Associated Press contributed to this report.