Rafael Nadal’s return to Centre Court on Thursday ended in victory against a familiar foe Lukas Rosol, who two years ago shocked the Spaniard.
Nadal needed four sets to avenge his previous loss and after trailing the first set against the unseeded Czech, the two-time champion powered back to clear the Rosol obstacle 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-4 into the third round.
Next up for the world number one is Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in the last 32 on Saturday.
“I never play for revenge,” says Nadal, who was a break down in the second set and its resultant tie-break before upping the antics on the 52nd-ranked Rosol. “Every match is a different match.”
Rosol, 28, broke at 4-4 on his way to taking the first set and then moved 4-2 clear in the second as he kept delivering tons of heavy serves and thunderous groundstrokes that took the second seed unawares.
But after the Czech’s first serve faltered the 14-time Grand Slam winner took the initiative to flick the pressure table back at his opponent and force a tie break when Rosol fired down the line.
The Marjocan looked suspect as the Czech surged 5-3 ahead and with two serves to a two-set lead, Nadal pegged him back with a low slice, and facing set point at 6-6, Rosol double faulted to hand off the set.
Nadal began exhibiting his big-match attitude early in the third, while his opponent settled for a more defensive approach. And when facing set point, Rosol needed to hold serve to stay in the set but double faulted again.
The Czech fended off three break points before netting a forehand to drop serve early into the fourth. Nadal rattling through his service game comfortably approached his first third round appearance at the All England Club since 2011 by just one game while leading 5-3.
But a mistimed forehand from the French Open champion at 30-30 when serving for the match almost forced out a decider, well enough Nadal responded with a forehand winner before converting his match point.
“My goal was not Rosol, it is to play well in the tournament. There was a lot of tension but I think I had a good answer and I think I finished the match playing great.”