Wimbledon 2019: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer ease into quarters as legends show Next Gen the wayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/tennis/wimbledon-2019-nadal-djokovic-federer-eases-into-quarters-5821926/

Wimbledon 2019: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer ease into quarters as legends show Next Gen the way

Four-time champion Novak Djokovic advanced along with two-time winner Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer into the quarter-finals of Wimbledon 2019.

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Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his fourth-round match against Portugal’s Joao Sousa (REUTERS)

Rafael Nadal had plenty to grumble about during the first week of Wimbledon. He was irritated at being seeded third at the grasscourt major despite his status as world number two and he was left exasperated when the draw put him on a second-round collision course with Australian hot-head Nick Kyrgios – a player who thrives on rubbing Nadal up the wrong way.

Those setbacks have well and truly fired up the Spaniard and it was poor Joao Sousa who felt the full force of Nadal’s fury on Monday during a 6-2 6-2 6-2 demolition job in the fourth round.

Tougher tests will surely come for the two-time champion, who may have to beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic if he wants to complete a Roland Garros-Wimbledon double for the third time in his career, but for now he was happy to show off the kind of ruthless streak that Boris Becker hailed as “vintage Nadal on grass”.

“It was a good solid match. A lot of positive things in there,” the 18-times Grand Slam champion, whose surgically-repaired body often struggles to cope with the demands of playing on the slick grass surface, said with a smile.

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“Good forehands, good backhands and creating some good volleys, so I am happy to be in the quarter-finals again. The body is holding up well and I am playing some good tennis and winning matches in straight sets also help.”

TENNIS BEHEMOTH

Until this year, the only Portuguese to create a racket, literally, in the singles at Wimbledon was Michelle Larcher de Brito. But whereas she made her name thanks to the cacophony of ear-splitting shrieks and squeals that could be heard all around, and beyond, the 42 acres that make up the All England Club, Sousa had let his racket do the talking as he became the first Portuguese to reach the last 16 of a major.

The run included a memorable second-round win over former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic but the world number 69 simply ran out of ideas when he came up against a tennis behemoth who had his eyes set on a 39th quarter-final appearance at the majors.

The sweet-spot in Nadal’s racket appeared to be the size of a beachball on Monday as the Spaniard fired off formidable forehands, breathtaking backhands and thunderbolt aces to burst Sousa’s Wimbledon bubble.

As Nadal hurtled to a 4-0 lead in the first set, Sousa appeared to have adopted some Larcher de Brito tactics by producing a couple of comical grunts. But rather than throwing Nadal off stride, the “hay-way” yelps only made the crowd chuckle.

Thirty winners in all flew off Nadal’s racket, none better than the running cross-court passing shot he flicked over the net as he chased down a Sousa dropshot to end a breathtaking 20-shot exchange.

While the Centre Court crowd erupted as they rose to their feet, some fans were seen bowing to Nadal’s greatness and even Sousa joined in by applauding the effort.

The multi-lingual Sousa may speak Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Italian but when it came to the language of tennis there was only one man on court who was fluent.

Nadal’s fifth ace set up a last-eight meeting with the winner of the all-American duel between Tennys Sandgren and Sam Querrey.

Novak Djokovic remained firmly in cruise control on Monday to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals as he swatted aside France’s Ugo Humbert, the latest of tennis’s up-and-comers to show promise but ultimately fall short.

Djokovic, capable of jaw-dropping feats of agility when pushed to the brink, has barely stretched a sinew in reaching the last eight and the 21-year-old Humbert proved incapable of applying any real pressure in a 6-3 6-2 6-3 defeat.

The Frenchman had let it be known after his third-round victory over the much-heralded Felix Auger-Aliassime that he too was part of tennis’s “next generation”, yet in the current climate that appears far from a badge of honour.

It is said that youth is wasted on the young and tennis fans surveying the current crop emerging in the men’s game may be inclined to agree.

With the early Wimbledon exits of the game’s brightest starlets — Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Auger-Aliassime and Denis

Shapovalov — the hunt for a worthy successor to Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer seems as futile as ever.

“Wimbledon historically for many players and me included has been a special tournament that has motivated me throughout my life,” Djokovic said. “I try not to take things for granted. We keep on going.”

This is the first Wimbledon in the professional era when players aged 30 or over outnumbered 20-somethings and teenagers in the men’s round of 16.

The nine elder statesmen who reached this stage also equalled the record for the most men in their 30s to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Significantly, however, that record was set at this year’s French Open when once again tennis’s old stagers remained stubbornly awkward to beat.

Humbert was not among the most feted of the rising stars and was only ranked 66 in the world, but after dashing the hopes of Auger-Aliassime, he became the youngest player left in the men’s draw and a symbol of the future.

Humbert and 23-year-old Matteo Berrettini were the only players in the last 16 who were under the age of 27, another statistic that paints as bleak a picture for the future of men’s tennis as Humbert’s performance on Court One.

Djokovic flashed a brilliant backhand return to break in the fourth game of the first set, which he took in 32 minutes, and broke again in the third and seventh games of the second set.

You need to be technically solid as stone to trouble Djokovic, but Humbert was occasionally ragged, gifting points to the world number one, who accepted gleefully.

Djokovic, chasing a fifth Wimbledon title, broke serve twice more in the third set, sealing victory when Humbert netted a forehand to set up a last-eight clash with Belgium’s David Goffin.

Goffin overcame 35-year-old Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6(9) 2-6 6-3 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Novak Djokovic eases on as old stagers show Next Gen the way

Novak Djokovic remained firmly in cruise control on Monday to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Novak Djokovic remained firmly in cruise control on Monday to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals as he swatted aside France’s Ugo Humbert, the latest of tennis’s up-and-comers to show promise but ultimately fall short.

Djokovic, capable of jaw-dropping feats of agility when pushed to the brink, has barely stretched a sinew in reaching the last eight and the 21-year-old Humbert proved incapable of applying any real pressure in a 6-3 6-2 6-3 defeat.

The Frenchman had let it be known after his third-round victory over the much-heralded Felix Auger-Aliassime that he too was part of tennis’s “next generation”, yet in the current climate that appears far from a badge of honour.

It is said that youth is wasted on the young and tennis fans surveying the current crop emerging in the men’s game may be inclined to agree.

With the early Wimbledon exits of the game’s brightest starlets — Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Auger-Aliassime and Denis

Shapovalov — the hunt for a worthy successor to Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer seems as futile as ever.

“Wimbledon historically for many players and me included has been a special tournament that has motivated me throughout my life,” Djokovic said. “I try not to take things for granted. We keep on going.”

This is the first Wimbledon in the professional era when players aged 30 or over outnumbered 20-somethings and teenagers in the men’s round of 16.

The nine elder statesmen who reached this stage also equalled the record for the most men in their 30s to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Significantly, however, that record was set at this year’s French Open when once again tennis’s old stagers remained stubbornly awkward to beat.

Humbert was not among the most feted of the rising stars and was only ranked 66 in the world, but after dashing the hopes of Auger-Aliassime, he became the youngest player left in the men’s draw and a symbol of the future.

Humbert and 23-year-old Matteo Berrettini were the only players in the last 16 who were under the age of 27, another statistic that paints as bleak a picture for the future of men’s tennis as Humbert’s performance on Court One.

Djokovic flashed a brilliant backhand return to break in the fourth game of the first set, which he took in 32 minutes, and broke again in the third and seventh games of the second set.

You need to be technically solid as stone to trouble Djokovic, but Humbert was occasionally ragged, gifting points to the world number one, who accepted gleefully.

Djokovic, chasing a fifth Wimbledon title, broke serve twice more in the third set, sealing victory when Humbert netted a forehand to set up a last-eight clash with Belgium’s David Goffin.

Goffin overcame 35-year-old Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6(9) 2-6 6-3 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Easy for Roger Federer as Matteo Berrettini crumbles to defeat

Roger Federer raced into his 17th Wimbledon quarter-final with a 6-1 6-2 6-2 demolition of Matteo Berrettini.

Ruthless Roger Federer raced into his 17th Wimbledon quarter-final with a 6-1 6-2 6-2 demolition of Matteo Berrettini on Monday but, contrary to what the scoreline suggests, this did not require a masterclass from the Swiss great.

In truth, a match that on paper looked as if it might provide his first big test of the tournament as he chases a ninth title was a no-contest as his 23-year-old Italian opponent self-destructed on Centre Court.

From the moment Federer broke in the fourth game with a silky smooth smash, any tactical plan a dazed Berrettini took on court with him unravelled in spectacular fashion.

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After losing the first set in 17 minutes and the second in not much longer he disappeared off court — presumably to try and locate a panic room somewhere in the All England Club.

When he returned Berrettini found even more unusual ways to gift points to eight-time champion Federer, notably when he dribbled a dreadful attempt at a drop-volley into the net with Federer out of position behind the baseline.

Even the 37-year-old Swiss, anxious to save energy and get off court quickly as dark clouds gathered, looked aghast, shaking his head at the ineptitude of his opponent’s error.

It was a shame for Berrettini, who was hoping to become only the fifth Italian to reach the quarter-finals here, as he is clearly a much better player than this performance suggested.

There was sympathetic applause from the crowd when he did connect properly but Federer was having none of it as a sweet volley put Berrettini out of his misery in one hour 14 minutes.

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Second seed Federer will face eighth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori for a place in the semi-finals.