The common wisdom with Rafael Nadal used to be that he would be a massive danger in the second week of Wimbledon once courts slow down but that early in the tournament he would be vulnerable to a big hitter in the zone. It seems like he has avoided the danger this year in making the fourth round although his opponent Gilles Muller has a traditional grass game that he hopes can trouble the Spaniard. Check out the Nadal vs Muller Head to Head stats.
For someone that thrives on grass like Muller does, it a surprise that the Luxembourger has made the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time. He looked great throughout the warmup grass tournaments, winning in -S’hertogenbosch and making the semi finals of Queens. It was a bit of a surprise that he needed extra games in the 5th set to see off Lukas Rosol but it made for some lofty stats as he hit 91 winners including 43 aces in the match overall. Things were much easier in round three with Muller beating the home favourite Aljaz Bedene in large part thanks to a strong serving display.
Nadal continues to look unstoppable and kept his winning streak of slam sets going with a straight sets win over Karen Khachanov. The Russian offered way more of a threat than his previous two opponents did and even had a set point opportunity that Nadal would snuff out. Nadal will be slightly concerned by a low break point conversion rate of 4/15 but it would be very picky to criticise anything about his performances in week one of the tournament. Conditions have turned in Nadal’s favour earlier than expected as he commented post-match. “It’s always that is better when is the sun out there. The conditions become a little bit more drier, and the court is more firm. Is better obviously for me.” he said.
Muller famously beat Nadal at Wimbledon in the early years of Nadal’s career – beating the Spaniard in four sets in 2005. Nadal got revenge for that loss in 2011 and is 5-1 overall against his opponent with it highly likely to be extended to 6-1. “He’s one of the toughest opponents possible on this surface especially. Probably is his best surface without a doubt. He has a great serve, a great volley. He play well from the baseline here.” Nadal said of his opponent.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets