Rafael Nadal beats Argentine Francisco Cerundolo to reach the second round

Rafael Nadal beats Argentine Francisco Cerundolo to reach the second round

In the first round of Wimbledon on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal defeated Argentinean Francisco Cerundolo, who was ranked 41st, 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4 to start his quest for the year’s third Grand Slam victory.

The second seed, a 36-year-old who hasn’t competed at Wimbledon since 2019 and who has avoided warm-up events due to a persistent foot issue, seemed to be dominating the match until a string of unforced mistakes let Cerundolo back in.

In my case, I haven’t stepped foot on the grass in the previous three years, so it’s not a surface we play on very often, Nadal told the Centre Court audience.

Every day is a challenge for me, given where I am in the competition and the challenging conditions I came from to get here.

Nadal took the first set by unexpectedly entering the net, causing Cerundolo to miss his forehand. The Spaniard left with a quick skip and fist pump.

After breaking serve in the sixth game and serving out to love, he took the second set.

However, the 23-year-old Cerundolo, who just recently cracked the top 100, cranked up the intensity in the third set and found the open spaces with his booming forehand to put the twice-Wimbledon winner on the defensive.

Nadal, who has won 20 further Grand Slam championships, seemed weary amid the assault and dropped the set with a backhand into the net. As Cerundolo’s confidence and vigor grew in the fourth, he eventually forfeited his serve.

But Nadal, who won the French Open earlier this month and the Australian Open in January, is no stranger to combat. So he came together again and fought back with all his knowledge.

He twice broke his now-nervous opponent’s serve to win the match. He set up a second-round showdown with Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis to the support of a crowded Centre Court.

After being absent for three years, Nadal stated, “It is great to be back, and I can’t thank (people) enough for the support.”