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Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Monday, 20 June 2011 12:50 UK

Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal v Michael Russell as it happened

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By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Nadal 6-4 6-2 6-2 Russell
Not delayed for long - Russell will throw in a challenge too, at match point, and raises a fist in mock triumph as Hawk Eye backs him up. Forced to the back, tired waft into the net - and that's it. The champion is through in one hour 58 minutes, and the crowd jump to their feet to applaud him to the locker-room.

* Nadal 6-4 6-2 5-2 Russell
The sun inches out once again, drawing faint shadows at the players' feet. One final hurrah from Russell? Thumping forehand, top-edged by Nadal high into the cloudy sky and down into the Royal Box. Wogan? Woodward? Neither - a flush-faced gentleman with white hair who, I fear, may habe spilled the catch. Nadal stretched on the backhand side, and Russell has delayed the inevitable.

Nadal 6-4 6-2 5-1 Russell *
A lady on one of the front rows there dusts her jowls with a make-up brush as the players wipe faces on purple Wimbledon towels. Seems both remarkably unselfconscious and self-obsessed, but if it works for her, who are we to criticise? Nadal on the forehand - 33rd clean winner of the contest - and a cunning, slicing serve out wide - his fourth ace - to move within a single game of victory.

* Nadal 6-4 6-2 4-1 Russell
Russell throwing everything and anything into the mix now - a random sprint to the net, passed without a blink from the dead-eyed destroyer opposite. Ball-boys crouch by the net-post, waiting to pick up the pieces once again, and they will sprint into action now as Nadal crunches an unstoppable forehand cross-court to seal a decisive second break.

Nadal 6-4 6-2 3-1 Russell *
It's one thing holding on to your own serve, quite another getting any sort of grip on Nadal's. Dismissive now - the reigning champ has lost only one point on his own serve in this third set, and those numbers add up to a whole lot of trouble for his weary opponent.

* Nadal 6-4 6-2 2-1 Russell
Cries of empathy from the warm-hearted spectators as Russell's brave efforts falter once again - still scampering, still chasing, but mouth open with exertion and strings being tugged by the master puppeteer across the net. That's better, though - staying in the point, slicing the flat forehands back, picking up his reward as Nadal pulls one into the tramlines.

Nadal 6-4 6-2 2-0 Russell *
You rather fear Russell has read the writing on the wall here. The body language is hangdog, the expression bemused. Glimpse there in the crowd of Mighty Boosh star Noel Fielding, sporting a spicy multicoloured check suit. "The one in the middle - is that a man or a woman?" asks the commentating Boris Becker, without a hint of irony.

* Nadal 6-4 6-2 1-0 Russell
Now I'm seeing a little bit of Ian Bell about Michael Russell. His face seems to have an extraordinary ability to morph into another at any given moment, much like that memorable middle sequence in Michael Jackson's seminal Black Or White video. Either way he desperately needs to hold serve here to have any chance of an unlikely turnaround. Nadal, attacking, lancing groundstrokes into the corners, and that's too good for the world 91 - break taken, the match surely gone down the gurgler with it. * denotes next server

SECOND SET
Nadal 6-4 6-2 Russell *
Ready for the first convoluted omen of the championships? Nadal arrives here having lost in the quarter-finals at Queens. The last time that happened he went on to become Wimbledon champion. Although that was only last year. We can do better. Booming topspin forehand onto the line, notated by a portly line-judge with an exaggerated point of fingers to floor, and that's set point. Big serve, patsy return, forehand cross court... easy peas.

Sam Gibb via Twitter: "Could be watching a final here. Cracking tennis. Crowd loving it!"

* Nadal 6-4 5-2 Russell
A bald chap at the very front of the second row went bananas as Russell seized that break, standing tall with hands above his head. Wonder if it's his father George, who doubles as his coach. Sun slinks behind a cloud - white and fluffy, stay calm - and that is peachy from Nadal, barrelling a forehand cross-court to snatch the break straight back. Don't make him angry - you won't like him when he's angry...

Nadal 6-4 4-2 Russell *
A mobile courtside sounds loudly, much to the head-shaking disapproval of those in the vicinity. Some people. Oh, well played sir! Russell reads the Nadal serve, takes it early and slams a backhand back past a surprised Nadal. He'll have a break point here - scurrying at the back, somehow getting one smash back, reaching another, chasing back in to desperately reach a dropper - mmm, flicking dropper of his own, break back!

* Nadal 6-4 4-1 Russell
Russell's curls, thinning just a fraction, give him the air of a mid-1970s Art Garfunkel. Sun out now over Centre, and Nadal has his teeth into the American's serve - chance here for another break, and Russell will dive like Boris B to get one passing shot back - and again, Nadal toying with him mercilessly, the ball falling off his racquet and into the net as he lies nose-down in the pristine turf.

Nadal 6-4 3-1 Russell *
Nadal on the charge now, belting through his service game to love, a contented buzz settling over Centre. A lady in front of me reaches stealthily into the canvas bag at her feet and uncrinkles the foil from a pre-prepared bap. Cheese, from the look of it.

* Nadal 6-4 2-1 Russell
Chap there courtside in a QPR shirt. Are football shirts allowed on Centre? Probably slightly cheaper tickets here than they will be at Loftus Road next season. Nadal landing just 59% of his first serves, but winning 80% of points when he does land. Russell, all 5' 8" of him, crunches in his best service game of the match to alow hope to briefly flicker.

Nadal 6-4 2-0 Russell *
Sweat plastering the Nadal fringe onto his bandanna, the thick wristbands soaking up the rest. Blistering forehand out wide that Russell couldn't reach if he'd started running last week, and when another tired defensive thrust dies in the warm air and falls into the grasp of the net, the gap has grown.

c FIRST SET
Nadal 6-4 Russell
Big ask for Russell now, hauling back the Nadal juggernaut. Can he get a toe-hold in the... nope, not on that point, nor on that one... 40-0, the serves biting, the noose tightening... there it is - set stolen away with four games on the spin. Grey clouds overhead, big black storm ones hovering in metaphorical meterological fashion over the old stager.

duke_of_cool via Twitter: "Michael Russell clearly very good tennis player but just doesn't have physical attributes necessary for modern game"

* Nadal 5-4 Russell
Russell has to be careful here. Nadal with all the momentum, the know-how, the class - forehand there at 90mph - and the American's first double fault of the match leaves him wobbling at deuce. No no - a second, hot on its heels, offering up another break point - and then, the shame of it, crashing a forehand way, way long to toss it away.

Nadal 4-4 Russell *
If you've not seen Michael Russell before, he's got elements of Jim Courier about him in the face - reddish hair, narowed eyes, rosy chops. In place of the Courier cap, a scalp full of stunted curls. Playing well too - he's getting an awful lot back, chasing and scampering, hitting off the backhand with both feet in the air - and at 30-30 he has a glimmer, only to crunch a double-fisted backhand bang onto the tape. Groans from his new fans all around, and the door has closed as quickly as it opened.

* Nadal 3-4 Russell
The crowd here find themselves deliciously conflicted - torn between the long-term love of Rafa and the thrill of watching the outsider playing out of his well-travelled shoes. Chance down the line for Russ - oh, he's missed it, fractionally wide on Nadal's leftie forehand. Nadal, pummelling those forehands, the American being pulled to pieces here - he goes full-length on the baseline, but it serves only to please the cameras - Nadal, ruthless, brutal, breaks back in a flash.

Nadal 2-4 Russell *
Oh, shot du jour from Russell - delightful disguised lob that has Rafa wrong-footed and unable to turn. Gasps from the rapt crowd, instantly replaced by deafening applause, the sole stony face from beefy lady line judge beyond Rafa's byline. And again! Wonderful volley off the toes, picked up with gossamer touch and floated just over the net. Break point. First serve... wide. Second serve... net! Russell has the break, and the match is alive...

* Nadal 2-3 Russell
Is it a little slippy underfoot? The roof is still open, with the forecast looking steady until late afternoon, but the lush grass may be sweating up a touch. Line judges wait, navy blazers and cream slacks for the gentlemen, blazers and below-knee skirts for the ladies. Cream plimsolls for both. Russ settling in well here - 33 years old now, which makes him pensionable by tennis's fresh-faced standards, but that experience keeping nerves and wrist steady.

Nadal 2-2 Russell *
Russell goes by the nickname Iron Mike, I'm told, a nod to his love of hitting the big weights in the gym. It'll be more Buster Douglas if he floors the hot favourite this arvo, but we shall see. Nadal finding the rhythm on his serve, racing to 40-0 with power and precision and then forcing Russ out wide on both sides to seal the deal.

* Nadal 1-2 Russell
Russ has reached the second round at a Grand Slam event just four times in 21 attempts, as he's in trouble here - over-hitting a little, tightening up as Rafa piles on the pressure with those battering forehands. Break points... saved, Nadal framing way into the stands, another hurried forehand finding the net. Crowd enjoying the pluck and bite of the underdog.

Nadal 1-1 Russell *
Crunching serve out wide from the champ, and Russell can't get a racquet near that - first ace of the championship on Centre. A ball-boy somehow manages not to flinch as the yellow ball screams an inch past the end of his nose. Drop shot again by Russ, Nadal racing in… oh, he's popped it wide! Russ keeping the ball in play, Rafa unloading a big backhand - no no, into the net, and Russell will have a break point. Cries of consternation from the nervy Nadalettes spread around the stands. Ole! Booming serve, danger averted; booming serve mkII, advantage seized. Russell to the net, stretching volley… ach, framed into the tape.


* Nadal 0-1 Russell
Russell wins the toss of the coin - good start, Mikey - and opts to serve. Nervy start, crashing an adrenalised forehand long, but that's cheeky - drop-shot pulling Rafa in, volleyed lob from the attempted pass that dips over the Spaniard and bites the baseline. Rafa pulls a backhand into the net, and the rank outsider is off the mark. * denotes next server

1306: Players loosening up, the dark green banked seats abuzz with anticipation and excitement. First meeting between these two, Rafa with his ranking of world no.1, Russell out at 91. The American doing his best to stay cucumber-cool on his first Centre Court outting, but the heart must be thumping like Keith Moon's tom-toms - in four previous appearances at Wimbledon, he's fallen at the first hurdle on three occasions. The other time? Out in the second, sawn off by Fabio Fognini.

1303: Rafa, walking out onto Centre as defending champ for the first time (injury cost him the magic moment in 2009) - white bandanna, spotless towelling sweatbands on each wrist, crisp white shirt, baggy shorts and mid-calf socks. On any normal man in south-west London a sartorial disaster; on the muscled Majorcan a wardrobe wonder.

1301: Whoops and frantic applause around this famous old arena, the green panelled door to the locker-rooms opening... here they come...

1258: To Rafa and Russ. Nadal has never lost a first round match at Wimbledon, and if Michael Russell breaks that stretch it'll go down as one of the all-time great SW19 upsets. Mind you, remember what happened to the defending champ in his Day One bow last year? Roger Federer was two sets down to Alejandro Falla before dragging himself back from the brink.

1256: Hello - Sir Clive Woodward's on the list as well. "CLIVE! ARE YOU TAKING THE RFU JOB?" I wouldn't dare. A shout out of place here and said stewards will bundle you away in a flash. Decorum must be maintained.

1254: Down there to my left, the Royal Box lies empty. Not for long. In addition to HRH the Duke of Kent, Sir Jackie (and Lady) Stewart and someone called Mr Butch Buchholtz, we're also due to have Sir Terry Wogan with us today. If there's a superior sports jacket worn in the All England Club this fortnight then something will have gone very wrong.

1250: The most pristine slab of grass in Europe. Sue Barker a vision in creamy beige by the umpire's chair. Patrons in strappy summer dresses eating their sandwiches too early. Members of the Armed Forces flirting with said patrons while undertaking their stewarding duties. Centre Court is ready - are you?

All times in BST.



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Wimbledon day one as it happened
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Women's singles results
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Men's singles draw
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Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis


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