Spain’s Rafael Nadal needed four sets to defeat German Philipp Kohlschreiber in today’s Australian Open 2010 Third Round tennis.
Nadal took the match 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 after having raced to a two set lead by demonstrating great ground strokes, and returning in his customary uncompromising fashion.
However, in the third set, Kohlschreiber upped his level slightly, and this coincided with Nadal losing his service game. Nadal hitting an easy pass into the net and serving a double fault in the second game seemed to spark something of a crisis of confidence, allowing the German to break serve at the tenth attempt (of the match), and go on to take the set somewhat easily by 6 games to 2.
In the fourth set, Kohlschreiber started well again, and Nadal needed to draw on his reserves to save a number of break points in the second game, before the set went with serve to go 5-5. Kohlshreiber then lost his service action slightly, and Nadal hit some great passing shots to break his man, before holding service to take out the match.
Nadal’s future opponents will be buoyed by his seeming inability to get his service game consistently firing: many times he had to rely on big second serves at key points having missed too many first serves throughout. A better returner than Kohlschreiber would have got real joy from this match, though the German was certainly hitting the ball well enough to take this to five sets today – he simply failed to convert one of several good chances early in the fourth set.
Rafael Nadal will know what he needs to do if he is to progress and lift this tournament: improve his first serve percentages. The dangerous Spaniard is, importantly, still in the draw for the next round, which is, after all, all that was required today. One and a half slightly below-par sets of tennis are forgivable, but, in a player who can dominate on any surface, such weaknesses, however fleeting, must offer hope to the rest of the field chasing this title.
Rafael Nadal is rewarded with a tough match against Croatian Ivo Karlovic.