You might think that, if you’re 6’6”, and you have a nasty left-handed serve, and you’re facing Rafael Nadal on a grass court, you wouldn’t come out and try to win long rallies from the baseline. But that’s what Jiri Vesely appeared determined to do in the early going of his fourth-round match at Wimbledon on Monday. It didn’t work.
Instead, Vesely allowed Nadal to settle in, find a ground-stroke groove, and quickly begin to dictate the points himself. Rafa moved back to return serve, but after that he did his best to stand close to the baseline and control the middle of the court. The result was his most efficiently aggressive tennis of the tournament. While he gave up three inches to Vesely, Nadal hit more aces (nine to eight), won a much higher percentage of points on his first serve (78 to 58), hit 19 more winners (37 to 18), and committed just 12 unforced errors.
Unlike his rival Roger Federer earlier in the day, though, Nadal experienced a third-set hiccup. At 2-2, he missed two forehands and was broken. Last year he lost in the fourth round to another heavy-serving lefty, Gilles Muller. Could Vesely dig in and give him the same kind of trouble?
WATCH: Match point from Nadal's win over Vesely at Wimbledon: