Nadal comeback ends Haase hopes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rafael Nadal survived a major scare against unheralded Robin Haase to progress into the third round of Wimbledon with a 5-7 6-2 3-6 6-0 6-3 victory.

Facing a player positioned 150 places lower than him in the world rankings, at 151st, Nadal took a battering in a one-sided third set that hinted at a sensational upset.

Haase of Holland, who was troubled by a foot injury from the second set onwards, produced some wonderful strokes that brought Centre Court to its feet.

But the 23-year-old's otherwise outstanding serve fell apart in the fourth set and Nadal capitalised and never relinquished control.

Haase was playing in only his seventh grand slam and was hoping to reach the third round for the first time, yet Nadal found his rapid and accurate serving impenetrable in the early stages.

In contrast, the 24-year-old Mallorcan was delivering the ball with less conviction and in the 12th game he conceded break and set point.

Haase needed no second invitation as he struck a jumping forehand smash to take a surprise lead.

Nadal responded to the setback magnificently, amassing three break points in the opening game of the next set.

The first was saved by an ace but he pounced on the second, delivering a bruising forehand on the run and celebrating his success by jumping in the air.

A tremendous rally in the fourth was ended with a simple volley by Haase after Nadal had been left stranded at the net.

But Nadal dropped a fine return onto the left sideline en route to breaking for a second time in the eighth, levelling the match.

Haase received treatment to his right foot before the third set began but his manoeuvrability was clearly not affected during a thrilling sixth game.

One rally saw him furiously scramble around court and return a smash, winning break point which he put away with a stunning forehand that had coach Dennis Schenk leaping from his seat in appreciation.

Haase clinched the next game with four aces and Centre Court sensed another dramatic evening at SW19 was unfolding as the Dutchman moved to one set away from victory.

Nadal pumped his fist upon securing two break points in the second game of the fourth set but failed to convert either, hitting the net and then rifling a backhand long.

But Haase, whose service had now inexplicably fallen to pieces, conceded a third which he pushed wide to give Nadal a crucial foothold into the set.

Seizing the moment, the winner of seven grand slam titles bulldozed his way through the remainder of the set without losing a game.

The path to victory was cleared when Nadal produced a magnificent lob at full stretch to break four games into the decider.

In one last act of defiance, the spirited Haase took just a minute and four seconds to win the eighth game as he cranked his service back up but he was only delaying the inevitable.

Comments