Nadal battles back on a rainy day at Wimbledon

 

The Sports Network

London, England (SportsNetwork.com) - World No. 1 Rafael Nadal started slow again at Wimbledon but recovered to beat Mikhail Kukushkin on a rainy Saturday that has wreaked havoc with the schedule.

With the Centre Court roof closed, Nadal lost a first set for the third time in as many matches at this grass-court Grand Slam.

The second-seeded Spaniard and two-time Wimbledon champion, however, secured a spot in the fourth round by rallying for a 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win.

Nadal sent a backhand long, giving an opening set that featured no break points to Kukushkin, who had won only seven games in two previous matches against Nadal.

The man from Kazakhstan erased the match's first break point in the fourth game of the second set, but a long forehand gave Nadal a second break chance and he converted with a strong return on a second serve to go up 3-1.

Nadal broke again with an incredible forehand winner and closed out the set with an ace.

Kukushkin slipped during the opening game of the third set and wound up netting a forehand to get broken again. After a strong service game by Nadal, Kukushkin finally managed to hold serve, ending a string of seven straight games won by Nadal.

Nadal won 82 percent of the points on his first serve in the third set.

Kukushkin had an opportunity to get back in the fourth set, but Nadal fought off two break points to go up 3-0. He ended the match with a forehand winner.

Nadal will next play the winner of the match between wild cards Nick Kyrgios of Australia and Czech Jiri Vesely.

Kukushkin fell to 1-14 all-time against Top 10 opponents.

Seven-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer cruised into the round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win over Colombian Santiago Giraldo on Centre Court. The fourth-seeded Federer served eight aces and converted 5-of-9 break points in the 81-minute match.

The Swiss star's next opponent will be either 15th-seeded Pole Jerzy Janowicz or 23rd-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

Rain suspended play on the outside courts for several hours.

Read more Tennis stories from the Miami Herald

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