For the fourth consecutive time in his career, Rafael Nadal has reached the fourth round of the Wimbledon tournament, two of which include running to the semifinal as well. And he did so on Saturday in supreme fashion, beating 27th seed Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets on Centre Court in his third-round tie. However, ahead of his last 16 clashes, Nadal's next opponent issued a massive warning to Spaniard, saying that he holds the ability to "hurt" him on the grass courts of the All England Club.
Nadal made a dicey start to his Wimbledon return. Playing on the Centre Court for the first time since reaching the semis in 2019, Nadal dropped a set each in his first two matches. But on Saturday, he held the upper edge against Sonego, and despite the Italian waging a comeback under the closed roof in the third set, Nadal broke his serve again to wrap up the match in style.
Nadal will next face Botic van de Zandschulp in the pre-quarters, who as well has dropped two sets each in his last two matches against unseeded players.
The 36-year-old has previously faced the 21st seed only once in his career, in French Open in May and Nadal had scripted a comfortable 6-3 6-2 6-4 win in the third round. But the Dutch international feels that their meeting on the grass-court could end in his favour.
"The biggest challenge in tennis is to play Rafa at Roland Garros. It was a tough one there, but [I have] more confidence here to really make a shot," said Van de Zandschulp said after his 7-5 2-6 7-6(7) 6-1 win over Richard Gasquet to reach the fourth round.
"Hopefully it's going [to be] better than the first time. I was a little bit nervous there during the beginning of the match, so hopefully, I can start better off here.
"He didn't play so many matches on grass the last couple of years. You see him struggle a little bit. Of course, he's winning the first few rounds. But I think maybe I can hurt him on the grass courts here."