Wimbledon: Aggressive Rafael Nadal powers past Donald Young

Rafael Nadal continued his rampage at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday, powering past tricky American Donald Young in straight sets. Nadal has been more aggressive than ever this year at the All England Club, and his offensive-minded tactics paid off again in the Spaniard’s first match on Centre Court since 2015. The two-time Wimbledon champion came out swinging and never looked back, bullying Young around the court on his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Quick start from Nadal

Nadal’s thunderous forehand was clicking right from the very first point as the Spaniard pushed Young around the court throughout the American’s first service game. Nadal would use his big shots to bring up a break point in the opening game after erasing a 40-15 deficit and sealed the dream start when Young netted a backhand. Young would settle in after the break and began to resist the Nadal assault. However, the American struggled to make any inroads on his opponent’s serve.

Nadal lines up a backhand during his second round win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Nadal lines up a backhand during his second-round win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Nadal first faced pressure in the sixth game, when he blew a 40-15 lead and let Young back to deuce, but the fourth seed was able to draw a pair of quick errors to hold for a 4-2 lead. The Spaniard attacked the net regularly during his blowout first round win and the tactic continued to pay dividends in the second round. Serving for the set at 5-4, Nadal won back to back net points before striking a pair of unreturnable serves to wrap up the opening set with a love hold. The break point Nadal converted in the opening game was the only break point of the set.

Nadal continues to roll

The experience of Nadal tipped the scales right off the bat in the second set, as the fourth seed stopped a point mid-rally at 30-30 in the opening game on Young’s serve to challenge that his opponent’s shot was long. Hawkeye showed that the two-time Wimbledon champion was correct, which gave him a break point. Nadal would run Young ragged on the break point, finishing with an emphatic volley to once again break to start the set. The American did his best not to let Nadal run away with the set, taking a 0-30 lead in the very next game, only for the Spaniard to reel off four points in a row to consolidate with some outrageous shot-making.

Nadal powers through a backhand against Young. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Nadal powers through a backhand against Young. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Some dramatic defence from Nadal gave him an opening for a double break in the fifth game at 40-AD, but he netted a second serve return. Twice in the ensuing deuces, Young committed unforced errors to give Nadal break point, but both times the Spaniard failed to put his return in play. A smash winner from Nadal gave him a fourth break point, but the American saved it with an ace. Finally, at the fourth deuce, the fourth seed hit back-to-back passing shots that Young couldn’t handle, converting his fifth break point of the game to grab a double break lead. The Spaniard easily held to stretch the lead to 5-1.

Two games later, serving out the set proved tricky for Nadal, as he would miss two set points before staring down his first break point of the match, which he saved with a perfect serve-and-volley. The third time was the charm as Young netted a volley at AD-40 to give Nadal a two-sets-to-love lead.

Young comeback falls short

Young got off to a better start in the third set, holding his opening service game for the first time in the match. There was nothing between the two men through the first half of the set, as a few errors were beginning to creep into Nadal’s game while Young was more aggressive than ever. However, that new-found aggression would come back to bite the American in the seventh game as back-to-back unforced errors at 15-30 on his serve handed the break to his opponent.

As the Spaniard looked to serve out the match, Young kept pressing, taking a 15-30 lead and chasing down everything Nadal threw at him. A huge forehand winner gave the American a break point, but he sent his return long. Young had a second look after a Nadal double fault and this time, managed to send a backhand passing shot up the line for a winner to level the set at 5-5.

Donald Young hits a backhand during his second-round loss. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Donald Young hits a backhand during his second-round loss. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Recapturing the break seemed to take its toll on Young, while reinvigorating Nadal. Errors began to fly off the American’s racquet and a double fault at 15-30 gave the Spaniard double break point. The fourth seed blasted a huge forehand winner to convert the first of the break points and retake the lead. Seeking to serve out the match for a second time, Nadal made no mistake, holding to love to seal his place in the third round after two hours and 11 minutes.

By the numbers

Nadal’s aggressive approach to the 2017 championships was once again on display in this match, as the Spaniard struck 38 winners (to only 16 unforced errors), won 80 percent of his first serve points, and was an impressive 27 out of 34 at the net. He also punished his opponent every time he missed his first serve, limiting Young to only 39 percent of his second serve points won. The American was aggressive too, but only managed 31 winners while committing 22 unforced errors.

The two-time Wimbledon champion will take on Russian young gun Karen Khachanov in the third round.