There were no fireworks during Rafa Nadal’s comprehensive demolition of Lorenzo Sonego who was attempting to derail the Spaniard’s inexorable progress towards his third Wimbledon title, but a difference of opinion marred the end of the match.
Well probably it's been my best match without a doubt here during The Championships Rafa Nadal
The two-time champion won 6-1 6-2 6-4 following an outstanding display of shot making and serving to make the round of 16 and the second week of The Championships as he continues to rediscover and hone his grass court play after a three year absence.
While Sonego continually looked to the heavens for guidance which never came, he was left gesticulating at his team in the players box as he watched the games mount against him on the scoreboard.
Nadal was to admit later that it had been his best performance at Wimbledon and that was certainly the case in comparison to his first two rounds.
“Well probably it’s been my best match without a doubt here during The Championships,” Nadal said.
“Against probably the most difficult player I faced. My level has been able to raise a lot. Super happy for that.
“I wish Lorenzo all the very best for the rest of the season. He’s a great player on grass.
“Last year he made already the fourth round and this year again a good result, so I think he has a great future here.”
On this showing it was difficult to see Sonego as a future great grass court player, but he certainly did his best. He was just up against one of the best players ever to play the sport and on Saturday, he was in the best of form.
From 1-all Nadal just tore through Sonego leaving him stunned as he looked for answers to counter the onslaught but within 27-minutes he was a set down.
Less than half-an-hour later Nadal was 5-1 up in the second but the Italian managed to hold and secure his third game of the match but he couldn’t slow down the bulldozing Mallorcan who went two sets up in the next.
Nadal again struck early with a break for 1-0 in the third as dusk was falling prompting Sonego to call for the roof to be closed and his call was realised with Nadal leading 4-2 – a call which the second seed was unhappy about as it interrupted his momentum.
On the resumption of play, Nadal was upset by a noise Sonego had made during a point as the Italian set up his first break points of the match which he followed up by having a word with the umpire and then speaking to his opponent at the net.
And then for the first time in the match, he dropped his serve.
Sonego then held but Nadal regained control and wrapped it all up after two-hours and 4-minutes but he didn’t let the matter rest, ‘discussing the matter with the Italian at the net, after they had shaken hands.
“I didn’t make it in a negative way. I feel sorry if I bothered him, but I did it in a right way,” Nadal said in his on-court interview.
“I feel really bad now if I bothered him, so I feel sorry for that. That’s it – I will talk to him after but this is not a problem.”
Then speaking about his performance after reaching the fourth round for a 10th time, added: “It’s always a tricky thing. I went through some tough injuries during all my tennis career, but in some way, I feel very lucky that I’m still able to play at my age.
“I never thought that would be happening 10 years ago, so I just feel very, very lucky.”