Rafael Nadal Wimbledon 2019 backhand

Rafael Nadal breezes past Yuichi Sugita to set up Kyrgios tie

Rafael Nadal won comfortably in his opening match of Wimbledon 2019, beating Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-3 6-1 6-3

Not contesting a grass court tournament in the build up to this year’s Championships showed early on for the Spaniard, who lost 11 points in a row to find himself 0-2(0-40) down. However Sugita has not played a match on the ATP World Tour this year due to being ranked outside the top 200, and Nadal’s experience now began to show.

After saving all three break points, an ace bought the match back to 2-1, followed by a break of serve to level the set.

Playing in their first ever meeting, Nadal has won 48 matches at SW19, compared to Sugita’s one coming in 2017. Nadal showed this experience as he forced numerous errors from the Sugita backhand after ripping forehands deep into his opponent’s court.

The man from Mallorca secured a double break, and saw a Sugita backhand drift long to take the set 6-3 in defiance of his slow start.

Rafael Nadal has an excellent record against Japanese opponents. He has played 15 matches against Japan’s top three players Kei Nishikori, Yoshito Nishioka and Taro Daniel, holding an 87% win percentage. And this impressive form looked to continue as Sugita only managed to win 32% of points behind first serve, suffering from the lethal forehand of the world number two.

Nadal claimed the second set 6-1, and despite facing much more resilient serving from Sugita in the closing set, at 4-3 he won his fourth break point opportunity after a long flat forehand from the Japanese qualifier.

Another long return sealed the match for Nadal, who is chasing his first Wimbledon title since 2010.

He now faces the tough task of playing Nick Kyrgios, who showed his potential when he beat Nadal at their last meeting in Acapulco. Kyrgios also beat Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, their only ever grand slam meeting. The Aussie has recently criticised Nadal’s temperament setting up what could be a tense affair. The pair’s head to head currently stands at 3-3.

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