Wimbledon 2018: Rafael Nadal made to work in second-round win over Mikhail Kukushkin

The 17-times Grand Slam champion dug in and managed to avoid being dragged further into the afternoon

Wimbledon Day Three- Roger Federer and Serena Williams progress

It was a typical-looking result, with a typically predictable conclusion, but the tale of this match went far beyond the 6-4 6-3 6-4 scoreline that ended it.

For while Rafael Nadal has booked himself a place in the third round of Wimbledon, the current world No 1 was certainly made to work by the gutsy and occasionally excellent Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.

It was a lively affair here on Centre Court, one that kept the crowds thoroughly engrossed as they were treated to a series of high-tempo rallies, sublime cross-court dinks and thumping forehand placements from both men.

In the end, after 2hr 23mins, it was the Spaniard who ended up on top – no more than he deserved – but the Kazakhstani certainly succeeded in endearing himself to the SW19 masses through his flashes of brilliance and tenacity.

It became clear from relatively early on that this was not set to be a simple walk in the park for Nadal who, after breaking his opponent at the first time of asking in the first set, went on to concede three games on the trot to take the score to 3-3.

Nadal reasserted his dominance to see out the first set but there was more to come from the Kazakhstani as the match wore on.

After a subdued second set, losing 6-3, Kukushkin hit his peak throughout the third as he impressed with his energy and precision, notably hitting home a succession of sublime forehand winners from the centre of his court.

Nadal celebrates his hard-fought win (Getty)

And it was Kukushkin who delivered the match, late on in this final set. Bursting from his baseline to reach a smart Nadal drop-shot to his right, the 30-year-old had the crowd on its feet with a weighted return that flew across and away from the outstretched Spaniard.

It perhaps summed up the essence of this match that Nadal immediately fired down an ace to calm the animated audience, quash Kukushkin’s spirit and restore his authority.

Indeed, for all Kukushkin’s moments of defiance, this match was never in doubt. In controlling proceedings through his usual aggression and relentless power, Nadal remained one step ahead of his opponent for the majority of the clash.

Kukushkin was equally let down by his failure to convert pressure into points. The world No 77 converted just two of his 13 break points as he failed to reap the rewards of his hard work.

“He plays very well on grass, so it has been a good test,” Nadal said after the match. “I’m very happy to be through, I played better today than the first one.”

Nadal in action during the second set

Elsewhere, Nick Kyrgios came through in relatively comfortable fashion against Dutchman Robin Haase.

The colourful Australian drew a capacity crowd to Court Three and delighted them with his imaginative stroke-play, the occasional trick shot, and was also warned for swearing for good measure.

Despite some mild histrionics in the third set, mainly irritation at letting his opponent break back twice, Kyrgios ran out a 6-3 6-4 7-5 winner.

It was relatively smooth sailing for Novak Djokovic, too, as the former world No 1 brushed past Horacio Zeballos with a 6-1 6-2 6-3 win.Having become accustomed to playing his tennis on the main stage at Wimbledon, the Serbian found himself in far more intimidate surroundings here on day four of the Championships as he played out victory to the 4,000 fans who watched on from Court Two.

Unperturbed by the change in scenery, Djokovic coasted towards his 60th win at Wimbledon by breaking his 126th-ranked Argentine opponent six times and firing down 15 aces.

Novak Djokovic is through to the third round of Wimbledon

The only cause for concern was when Djokovic suddenly started wincing while running along the baseline in the seventh game of the third set and called on the trainer to get his left thigh massaged.

That interruption only delayed the inevitable for Zeballos, who lost both games after the resumption to bow out.

It was a different story for Stan Wawrinka, who crashed out at the hands of Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano.

The former world No 3 slipped to a straight-sets defeat, with Fabbiano progressing 7-6 (9/7) 6-3 7-6 (8/6) after play was initially delayed on Wednesday evening due to rain.

Wawrinka has dropped to 224 in the world rankings after a wretched year battling serious knee injuries, but had started in fine style at Wimbledon by dispatching sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov in the first round.

John Isner staved off two match points in the deciding set to edge past qualifier Ruben Bemelmans and into Wimbledon’s third round.

Ninth seed Isner eventually won out 6-1 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-7 (3/7) 7-5, in a match that spilled over into Thursday’s play after rain delays the night before.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in