Rafael Nadal survived a late fightback to move into the quarter-finals at Wimbledon following a 6-4 6-2 7-6(6) win over Botic van de Zandschulp.
Van de Zandschulp was ranked 57 last year as he broke the top 100, but his quarter-final run at the US Open has lifted him to a career-high 25.
The 26-year-old Dutchman was playing to reach the same stage at SW19, having beaten experienced Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the weekend.
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Nadal, for his part, had beaten Italian youngster Lorenzo Sonego to face his opponent and the Spaniard was looking to add yet another Grand Slam win to his resume.
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The pair were well matched with the opening stages going with service at 3-3 after half an hour’s play, in slightly cooler weather on Centre Court compared to earlier action.
A wicked return down the line from Van de Zandschulp showed Nadal that he could not take his younger opponent lightly, but he responded by swiftly putting the game away.
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A mistake at the net gave Nadal a chance to ramp up the pressure and break him to go a decisive 6-4 up in the first set.
Nadal then broke early to go 2-0 up and carried on his momentum to a 4-1 lead, with Van de Zandschulp struggling with his service game - three double faults after two sets - and he promptly lost the second set 6-2.
At the start of the third set, Van de Zandschulp rallied from 40-0 down to earn a break point, and take it, to give himself a boost, only to double fault immediately after as Nadal broke back to go level at 1-1.
Some superb reaction play from Nadal helped move him to 4-2 up and only two games from the last eight, and an unanswered seventh game serve left him on the verge of victory, but a remarkable run of play that culminated in an overhit return from Nadal gave Van de Zandschulp a real chance at 5-4 with a service game to come and he duly forced a tie-break.
A wonderful, exhausting point put Nadal 4-2 up, but with serving for the match at 6-3, he somehow soon found himself tied at 6-6, only to follow through with the decisive two winning points.
“I think I continued in a positive way," Nadal said afterwards. "Until the end when I played a bad game at 5-2 when it had been a very positive match. A difficult opponent [who has been] improving all year; huge congrats to him for his amazing improvement.
“After all the things that have happened over the last couple of months, to be able to be in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon after three years [away makes me] very happy.
“Every match is different [on grass]. [Taylor Fritz] will be a tough match; but it’s the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, so what can I expect?”
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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