Wimbledon 2018: Rafael Nadal breezes past Dudi Sela to book spot in second round

With every facet of his game in top gear, the two-time Wimbledon champion was in cruise control throughout the match.

Dudi Sela
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Rafael Nadal

Second seed Rafael Nadal began his 2018 Wimbledon campaign in fine style, easily breezing past Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in just one hour and 52 minutes. The Spaniard broke the match open midway through the first set, winning 15 of the last 20 games to book a spot in the second round against Mikhail Kukushkin.

 

Nadal finishes first set with a rush

Sela was competitive to start the match, getting to 30-30 on Nadal's first service game, but a beautiful down the line backhand got the Spaniard to game point and eventually a hold. 

The Israeli is 33 years old and with a ranking of 127th, possibly making his last appearance at the All-England Club and he was putting in a good showing so far, charging forward and hitting some crisp passing shots.

Through six games, this looked to be another early round struggle for the Spaniard, but he finished the first set in style. An ace gave him a love hold for a 4-3 lead, another lethal passing shot giving him a 0-40 lead on Sela's serve.

The world number 127 double faulted to hand the break to the 17-time Grand Slam champion. Serving for the set, Nadal wrapped up another love game with a Sela backhand return going wide, the world number one winning 12 points on the trot.

Two-time Wimbledon champion rolls through the second set

An opening break to love for the Spaniard extended his streak to 16 straight points, ended with a double fault. Sela was able to get to deuce, but he couldn't press on and Nadal held for a 2-0 lead.

That may have been the Israeli's last chance to remain competitive in the match and although he would remain down just a single break, it never felt as though Nadal was under any trouble.

The fifth game offered the two-time Wimbledon champion a chance to go in front by a double break with three break chances, but Sela did well to stave them off and remain in contact.

Nadal's serve was on point the entire set and he overturned a 0-15 hole in the eighth game to win four points in a row and as he did in the opening set, finished with a break, Sela missing a volley to bring upset point, the world number one scorching a backhand to take a two-set lead.

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Nadal breezes to the finish line

Stunningly, it was Sela who struck first in the third set, a missed lob from Nadal setting up break point and a subsequent double fault handing the Israeli the lead. His advantage didn't last long as he pushed a backhand wide to give the Spaniard the break back.

You can't give a legend like Nadal extra opportunities or he'll make you pay and that's exactly what he did as a hold to love was followed by a break as the 17-time major champion tacked on another hold for a 4-1 edge.

The pressure was upped even more as Nadal had yet another break point for a 5-1 lead, but a string of unforced errors denied him the chance to serve out the match. The final game was a protracted one as the second seed finally converted on third match point, wrapping up a brilliant performance.