LONDON (Reuters) – World number two Rafa Nadal was in ruthless form on Centre Court on Saturday as he marched into the fourth round at Wimbledon with a 6-2 6-3 6-2 rout of France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Spanish third seed was in command throughout the match and finished the contest in an hour and 48 minutes without conceding a single break point, sealing the result on his fourth match point with his 11th ace.
The victory was his 51st at the All England Club, equaling five-times champion Bjorn Borg in eighth place on the Open Era list for most Wimbledon men’s singles match wins.
“I think I played a great match. I was returning well, playing aggressively with the forehand and the backhand. I think I did a lot of things well,” Nadal said.
“Tsonga is someone you don’t want to face in the third round at Wimbledon. Every single day is a battle here. It’s not a surface I play a lot of matches on during the year.
“It’s important that after the tough draw I was able to find a way to be in the second week.”
Nadal broke early in the opening set to go 3-1 up as Tsonga struggled with his second serve, which allowed the Spaniard to control points and consistently approach the net to finish rallies.
Another break point at 5-2 opened the door for Nadal to attack Tsonga further and a whipped crosscourt forehand winner on set point gave the Spaniard the first set in 33 minutes.
Tsonga exhibited the odd flash of brilliance, with searing aces and a rare approach to the net after pushing Nadal behind the baseline, but a number of high-risk shots down the line did not come off for the Frenchman.
Tsonga’s serve deserted him at crucial moments, however, and a double-fault on break point in the second set gave Nadal a 4-2 lead, with the visibly frustrated 34-year-old Frenchman seen muttering to himself with helpless glances toward the players’ box.
Although Tsonga offered token resistance while serving to stay in the second set, Nadal served out the set by taking advantage of his opponent’s slower movement with pinpoint winners.
Despite the crowd urging the underdog on, Nadal earned a double break to consign Tsonga to defeat and book his place in the next round where he will face Portugal’s Joao Sousa or Briton Dan Evans.
“To be in the fourth round, any player (is) going to be tough,” Nadal added. “I need to be playing like today or a little bit better if possible.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond/Clare Lovell)