After making five consecutive Wimbledon finals between 2006 and 2011 — and winning two of them — Rafael Nadal had a tough time getting back there.
He had lost prior to the quarter-finals on each of his last five visits to SW19, as knee woes hindered his chances on the grass, and power-hitters blew him off the court.
But on Monday, Nadal booked himself a spot in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since 2011, defeating Czech lefty Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a mouth-watering showdown against No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro.
“Of course is an important result for me, no? Yes, that’s all. Of course, is important for me to be in these quarter-finals. Is true has been a while since I have been in that position,” said Nadal.
“At the same time I have been in that position a couple of times in my career, no? We are not talking about already that I played a final or I won the tournament. We are talking about I am in quarterfinals. That, of course, is a positive result.
“But when I come here, I come here thinking that I can do a good result, no? If not, probably I will not be here. When I arrive here, my goal is to do the things the right way, to try to give me chances to compete well. Sometimes the things works better, sometimes worst. My feeling last year I was not in this round, but I was playing enough well to be where I am this year. So happy for that.”
Here are some numbers surrounding Nadal’s run to the quarters:
3 – Nadal is bidding to do the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double in the same year for the third time in his career. Bjorn Borg achieved that feat in three consecutive years (1978-1980).
4 – Nadal has now reached 4 consecutive Slam quarter-finals for the first time since he reached 11 straight Slam quarter-finals between US Open 2009 and Roland Garros 2012.
7 – years since Nadal was last in the final-eight at Wimbledon.
16 – Nadal is on a 16-match winning streak – a stretch that included title runs in Rome and Roland Garros, prior to coming to Wimbledon.
18 – Nadal is targeting an 18th Grand Slam title, to close in on all-time men’s leader Roger Federer, who has 20.
35 – Grand Slam quarter-finals Nadal has now reached.
40 – Nadal has won 40% of the return points against his opponents’ second serve so far this tournament – the highest percentage among all quarter-finalists.
78 – Nadal has a 78.3% (65-18) winning record on grass throughout his career.
84 – Nadal has won 84% of his net points (66/79) – the highest percentage among all quarter-finalists.
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