Rafael Nadal: Wimbledon second seed reaches fourth round and keeps top ranking
|Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC|
|Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.|
Rafael Nadal has ensured he will keep hold of the world number one ranking by beating Alex de Minaur to reach the Wimbledon fourth round.
The Spaniard comfortably overcame the Australian teenager 6-1 6-2 6-4 on Centre Court.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion needed to reach the last 16 here to stay on top when the next rankings are released on 16 July.
He will next play 24-year-old Czech Jiri Vesely on Monday.
World number 93 Vesely beat 19th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 6-2.
Experience counts against youth
Nadal, seeded second behind eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, was in command from the start against 19-year-old debutant De Minaur, the youngest player left in the draw.
The two-time champion rattled through the first set with breaks in the fourth and sixth games and then did not drop any points on his serve in the second set until the final game, when he saved two break points before holding to go two sets up.
De Minaur pushed him harder in the third and made him wait until his third match point before finally succumbing to a Nadal volley at the net.
The Spaniard had faced more of a challenge in the previous round from the powerful forehand of Mikhail Kukushkin, but De Minaur offered little resistance.
The Australian won the Nottingham grass-court event last month, but he was appearing on Centre Court for the first time and the occasion got the better of him.
The gulf in class was illustrated in the eighth game of the second set when, in the face of a lob from De Minaur, Nadal raced to the back of the court and with his back to the net hit the ball between his legs and over his opponent, who could only net his scrambled effort to get it back.
“A positive match against a player with a lot of energy, I am just happy to be in the fourth round again,” Nadal said.
“I’ll go and watch some football – England, it’s coming home or not?”
And he was not alone as the majority of Centre Court departed straight away, with England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden under way, leaving just a smattering of people watching the next match on court between Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber.