Rafael Nadal will play his first slam fourth round match in his last five slam events on Sunday, taking on France’s Lucas Pouille. Nadal hasn’t been this deep in a tournament since the 2015 French Open, where he lost in the quarter finals.
It was once more routine stuff for the Spaniard, who needed just under two hours to see off the threat of Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1 6-4 6-2. It is nine straight sets for Nadal who also has indicated the wrist issues he had been dealing with have been getting better as time has gone on.
Nadal was complimentary of Pouille, his first seeded opponent of the tournament, during press. “He is a great player. He is young. He has all the shots: good serve, good forehand, good backhand. He’s a tough opponent. I practiced with him a couple of times and I played with him long time ago.” Nadal won 6-2 6-1 in that match last year although it’s fair to see Pouille has made some major improvements in his game and is ranked over 80 spots higher than he was at that point.
The Frenchman has managed to follow up his impressive Wimbledon quarter final with a run to the last sixteen, although it has been far from simple. He was on the brink of losing against Marco Chiudinelli in round two and had to come from two sets down for an impressive victory over Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday. He hit a hefty 67 winners in the 3-6 7-5 2-6 7-5 6-1 win over the 15th seed. Playing such a lengthy match prior does not bode well for Pouille who may well bow out at this stage but the match against Nadal should provide him with the opportunity to test himself against one of the game’s best.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets