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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Nadal comes through five-set epic
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal
Nadal is yet to get past the third round at Wimbledon
World number two Rafael Nadal fought back from two sets down to beat Robert Kendrick and set up a third-round clash with Andre Agassi at Wimbledon.

Nadal narrowly avoided falling victim to the first major shock of the fortnight, edging past the qualifier 6-7 (4-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-4.

Kendrick dominated early on with a superb attacking game-plan and was at one stage two points from victory.

But a fired-up Nadal dug deep and will now face Agassi in the last 32.

"I was worried," admitted the second seed. "It was very tough. He played a very good match.

"I had chances to break but he came up with a good serve every time. He served unbelievable. It made me think that I couldn't afford any mistakes.

"It was important to come through. I think I played a good match overall."

The Spaniard sunk to his knees on converting his third match point as though he had won the title, and with good reason.


Kendrick made a mockery of his world ranking of 237 with a magnificent performance of controlled grass-court tennis, firing 28 aces and moving to the net 94 times.

The early drama came when a line judge fainted with Nadal serving at 1-2, and a five-minute delay followed before the unfortunate official was taken away in a wheelchair.

When play resumed, Kendrick took a tight first set with five straight points in the tie-break and got the only break of the second in game two.

Nadal was starved of chances but showed his fighting spirit in the third-set tie-break, moving 5-1 clear with a desperate cross-court forehand winner.

A titanic fourth set saw Kendrick get to 5-4 up and 30-30 but Nadal did not falter, and in the following game Kendrick double-faulted facing a third break point.

There was not much doubt who held the initiative going into the fifth and Nadal took advantage, breaking in game five and serving out for the win.



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