Everything went well for Rafael Nadal against Botic Van De Zandschulp on Monday until it was time to close their fourth round match at Wimbledon.
Serving for the win at 5-3 in the third set, Nadal was broken for the second time in the match and he then failed to convert three consecutive match points as he led 6-3 in the break. equality that followed.
It 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 tournament on grass since 2019, when he lost to Roger Federer in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. He is in the hunt for his third Wimbledon title and has a shot at a calendar year Grand Slam after winning the Australian Open and French Open to take his career tally to a record 22 major titles.
“To be in the quarterfinals here at Wimbledon after three years without playing here is incredible for me,” Nadal said. “So, very happy.”
Nadal next faces 11th-seeded Taylor Fritz, the only American left in the draw.
Nick Kyrgios, meanwhile, returns to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the first time since his debut in 2014 after improving his record in five sets at the All England Club to 6-0. Kyrgios overcame a sore shoulder and a fall in the fourth set 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 was broken 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 Aussie, unlike his previous match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, when he repeatedly argued loudly with the chair umpire and was charged by his adversary to be disrespectful. Kyrgios also needed five sets to pass Paul Jubb in the first round.
Kyrgios was fined $10,000 for spitting in the direction of a rowdy spectator at the end of that first-round match and $4,000 for audible obscenity during his tumultuous victory over Tsitsipas in the third round.
“I was able to just be like ‘Wow, look how far I’ve come’. I was bouncing the ball before I served, I really smiled at myself,” said Kyrgios, a tour-high owner. 11 wins on grass this season. “I was like, ‘We’re here, we’re competing at Wimbledon, we’re putting in a good performance mentally.’ It was gratifying.”
He will then face another unranked player, Cristian Garin from Chile, who came from two sets down to beat Alex de Minaur.
Fritz, after losing three of his compatriots in the fourth round, ended that streak by beating qualifier Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time.
“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 consecutive victory on grass after winning a warm-up tournament at Eastbourne.
Garin came on after two sets and saved two match points in the fifth before beating de Minaur to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
The unseeded Chilean trailed 5-3 in the first-to-10 tiebreaker of the fifth set before picking up six straight points 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 a Grand Slam quarter-final since Fernando Gonzalez in 2009.
19th-seeded De Minaur had never dropped a set to Garin in three previous encounters and looked set to maintain that streak when he led 3-1 in the third-set tiebreaker. The Aussie then held two match points at 5-4 in the fifth.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.