Here's a line for you. Tuesday's tough match against Martin Klizan was only the second victory Rafa Nadal has had at Wimbledon since he beat Andy Murray in the semi-finals back in 2011. A year ago he lost in the first round, dropping him all the way down to No 5 in the world – and that is limbo low by the standards of this guy. You have to go all the way back to 2005 to find him ranked any lower.
Two years ago he was KO'd in the second round by Lukas Rosol and this afternoon he and the big Czech boy go head to head again. There will be some missiles fired across the net but this is a different Nadal to the one Steve Darcis downed last year and the man Rosol slugged five sets against.
Since slinking out of here last year Rafa has come back and won the US Open, reached the final in Melbourne and won in Paris. Plus ça change, as they say over there. I say there has been a change and it is the most natural one of all. Nadal is 28 now and the way he plays, his all-action physicality, his wham-bam Superman style, is going to take a toll. Of course it is – this is a guy who has been at the top of the game for juts about a decade. So here's the question over Rafa, given the way he plays the game: can his body last another couple of years or so? Guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will have less wear and tear on their bodies, it's less effort, less physical strain on the body. Nadal leaves it out there.
That opening-round win against Martin Klizan, back in Rafa's "magic place" that is Centre Court, sent a strong message. The first round was not easy but having a tough first match is a plus. Some people say if you can hold back here or there, ease your way into the next round, all well and good, keep the gas in the tank. But in this case I think it helped Nadal. Everybody was watching – especially when that first set went against him.
Do you need me to tell you what a fighter this guy is? I don't think so. He finds a way. But there was more to it on Tuesday. He started to put it together and that should send a signal to the rest. That's a good one down – get another down as well and there will be some momentum behind Nadal.
I think he is as capable of winning this Wimbledon as he was here in 2010 or 2008. The question mark is there, though – will his legs hold up? Will his lower back cope with the stresses and strains of playing on grass? It takes a heavy toll on your back.
Because of how this action man plays, his strong grip, his sliding, his relentless forehand, covering the court, his strong western grip that makes him work his ass off, his physicality, that all takes its toll. For him to stick around another couple of years and keep winning the big ones – so that everybody will always remember the name Nadal – is going to come down to whether his body can cope.
OK, so what about Rosol? Is there a way for him to make his lightning serve strike twice? He will have to have that first serve in perfect working order – it was 66 per cent in his first round against Benoît Paire and that needs to be higher, up into the seventies. And once the ball is in play he has gotta get off of that baseline. You have legs, man, use them to move forward. If you are going to sit back and try and trade punches with Nadal there will only be one winner. The way to beat him is a combination of different shots.
Rosol is at 52 in the world and has had an up and down year. Guys like Rosol, though, when they get to a Slam and walk out to take on a giant of the game like Nadal, a light goes on. Everybody wants to beat up the big boys. But I don't see that happening. I'm sure that Nadal with his work ethic and his quiet, calm team around him will bring him through to another victory.
Thursday's big game: Nadal v Rosol
Rafa Nadal/Lukas Rosol
Spanish Nationality Czech
28 Age 28
Majorca Residence Prerov, CR
6ft 1in Height 6ft 5in
Left-handed Plays Right-handed
No 1 World ranking No 52
64 Career titles 1
$70.5m Prize-money $2.15m
37-7 Wimbledon record 3-2
Winner (2008, 2010) Wimbledon best Third round (2012)
Won 1 Lost 1 Head-to-head Won 1 Lost 1
Bolly's prediction Nadal in three
Coaching report: Tara stopped playing and she started praying...
A contrasting day for the Brits. There goes Andy Murray cruising into the next round easy as you like and out goes Tara Moore. She was on the end of one hell of a painful lesson and I hope she has learnt from it. To be the best in anything, Tara – and you have to always want to be the best you can be – you have to go for it and not pray for it.
There she was, a place in the next round hers for the taking against Vera Zvonareva, serving for the match, not once but twice. She got nervous – that's understandable and then she got scared. She stopped doing what had taken her to the edge of a big win. And when you are ranked down at 250 in the world, this was going to be a very big win.
Moore went on the defensive, her serve became tentative, safety first aimed at getting it in and it was going down at 72mph. That's not good enough. You always, always, whether it is you guys playing in the parks or the top guys out on the Wimbledon grass, have to go for your shots. Never, ever forget that. You got me?
I remember Moore from the academy. She's feisty and I like her but, oh boy, yesterday was her chance. She stopped trying to win it and started praying she would win it. Prayer never won a tennis match. This was a tough blow.
Murray was fantastic. But, it was just all a bit too easy. I like to see a player stretched more. Here he is in round three and he has hardly had to break sweat. It is going to get one hell of a lot harder. On the horizon is a possible quarter-final with Grigor Dimitrov, who is going really well, a good win yesterday. Boy he hits the ball sweetly. This guy is special.Reuse content