Nadal holds off Ebden at Queen’s
World No.1 Rafael Nadal opened his Wimbledon preparations with a 6-4 6-4 victory over plucky Australian Matthew Ebden in cool conditions at Queen's on Wednesday.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal opened his Wimbledon preparations with a 6-4 6-4 victory over plucky Australian Matthew Ebden in cool conditions at Queen’s on Wednesday.
World No.168 Ebden kept the Spanish powerhouse honest with his strong serving performance before succumbing in one hour and 15 minutes in the second round match in west London.
Nadal is attempting to do the French Open-Wimbledon double for the third time in his career following Sunday’s four-set win in the Roland Garros final over Roger Federer.
In arguably the biggest match of his career, Ebden made an edgy start by leaving a return from Nadal, which landed just inside the baseline in front of the Australian.
Nadal pounced on the error by seizing an early break and that was enough for the Spaniard to claim the first set with the Australian finding his groove on serve.
Having won his way through qualifiers, Ebden looked comfortable on the surface, as the 10-time Grand Slam champion played his first singles match on grass for the season.
Nadal always held the upper hand in the match, but Ebden’s ability to hold his serve was impressive against a player so renowned for his returning.
In other matches, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson set up a third round clash with four-time champion Andy Roddick after a 6-2 6-4 win against American youngster Donald Young.
Johannesburg-born Anderson, seeded 15th, has the kind of big-serving style which should thrive on grass and he easily brushed aside Young in the second round at the Wimbledon warm-up event in west London.
While this was a routine success, his next test against third seed Roddick, a three-time Wimbledon finalist, would give a clearer indication of whether Anderson was ready to step up to the highest level.
The 25-year-old has been in good form of late, reaching the quarter-finals at the Miami Masters, and he comfortably survived a potentially-tricky first-round tie at Queen’s against Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic.
He was quickly into his stride against Young and broke in the third game before saving two break points on his own serve moments later.
Anderson made Young pay for that failure to break back as he cemented his advantage with another break before closing out the first set.
Young, 124th in the world rankings, enjoyed a surprise win over world number four Andy Murray at Indian Wells in March, but the 21-year-old left hander had lost his past three meetings with Anderson and never looked comfortable against the 200cm South African.
A rain break of well over an hour at 2-2 in the second set could have disrupted Anderson’s rhythm, but he broke Young immediately after the showers relented and had no problem finishing off the win.
Elsewhere in the second round, No. 2 seed Murray defeated Xavier Malisse of Belgium 6-3 5-7 6-3, while Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic, seeded 14th, beat Michael Russell of the US 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5).
Croatian eighth seed Marin Cilic eased through to the last 16 with a 6-4 6-4 win against French qualifier Arnaud Clement.
Clement, 33, had won their last grass-court meeting at Wimbledon in 2008, but Cilic was always on top this time as he saw off the oldest man in the draw in convincing fashion.