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Wimbledon 2010: Rafael Nadal beats Haase in five sets

Wimbledon Championships
Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July
Coverage:
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Rafael Nadal

Nadal - I was close to losing

By David Ornstein
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

World number one Rafael Nadal survived a huge scare against Robin Haase in round two as Wimbledon 2010 threw up yet another thrilling encounter.

The second seed twice had to come from behind before beating his 151st-ranked Dutch opponent 5-7 6-2 3-6 6-0 6-3.

Nadal was broken when serving to stay in the first set and, after rallying in the second, was stunned in the third.

But the Spaniard outclassed Haase from there on to seal a meeting with Philipp Petzschner, who beat Lukasz Kubot.

It was a battle that enthralled the Centre Court crowd from start to finish and unexpectedly proved the latest instalment in a captivating opening week at the All England Club.

Roger Federer, the defending champion and top seed, needed five sets see off Alejandro Falla, third seed Novak Djokovic went the distance with Olivier Rochus and John Isner overcame Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history.

Nadal and Haase were meeting for the first time but, separated by 150 places in the world rankings and with sharply contrasting CVs, few expected anything other than a straight sets victory for the seven-time Grand Slam champion.

606: DEBATE

There was little to chose between either player in the early stages and it swiftly became clear that Nadal was not going to have everything his own way as Haase rained down a succession of aces.

The 23-year-old from the Hague matched Nadal, 24, for aggression and varied things up by reeling off winners from the baseline but also coming in to volley.

Averaging a first-serve percentage above 80% during the first set, Haase rarely looked like being broken and sensed his chance to pounce at 6-5 up.

Helped to 30-30 by a double-fault, he smashed his way through Nadal's serve to snatch the set and brought the spectators, who had earlier welcomed the Queen on her first visit to Wimbledon since 1977, to their feet once more.

Nadal came out like a wounded animal at the beginning of the second and amassed three break points in game one.

The first was saved with an ace but Nadal made no mistake on the second, delivering a bruising forehand on the run and celebrating with a leap, a fist-pump and a yell of "Vamos!".

Robin Haase

Haase pummels Nadal in the third set

From there on Nadal was in control - getting the double-break in game seven with a fine return before easily serving out to level the match - but anyone expecting Haase to roll over in the third set would be surprised.

He received treatment to his right ankle at the changeover but his manoeuvrability was clearly not affected during a pulsating game six.

One rally saw Haase furiously scramble around court and return a second smash with a stunning pass to bring up break point, which he put away with an incredible forehand crosscourt winner that had coach Dennis Schenk leaping from his seat in appreciation.

Haase had Centre Court rocking with four aces in game seven and was soon serving his way to a 2-1 lead, moving to within a set of the match and leaving Nadal looking forlorn.

But Nadal should never be written off and cranked up the intensity in game two of the fourth set, squandering two break points but converting a third when Haase went wide.

Suddenly the Dutchman was chasing shadows - his first-serve percentage plummeting, his spirit fading and his body creaking - and he was broken twice more as Nadal wrapped the set up in 22 minutes to force a decider.

The momentum was now firmly with the left hander from Majorca, who is playing at Wimbledon for the first time since winning the title in 2008, and he broke in game four when Haase failed to return a majestic lob.

In one last act of defiance, the immensely talented Haase took only a minute and four seconds to win game eight. But the end was in sight for Nadal and he held serve to love to wrap up a two hour and 22 minute triumph.



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see also
Haase v Nadal as it happened
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wimbledon day four as it happened
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Weary Isner wins marathon match
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Murray hits top form at Wimbledon
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Ruthless Serena into third round
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Tsonga battles into third round
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Wimbledon 2010 - day four photos
24 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Grand Slam men singles results
21 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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