Nervous Nadal takes time to hit his stride
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal made a slow-burning start to his Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday, with the Spaniard caught cold by 80th-ranked Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci before coming through 7-6 6-2 6-3.
The French Open winner, champion at Roland Garros for a record seventh time this year, was 4-0 down in an hour-long first set as his timing went awry in a battle of left-handers under cloudy skies on Centre Court.
Any alarm was momentary with Nadal fighting back to 4-4 and winning the eventual tiebreak 7-0.
The press box benches that had filled halfway through the set emptied just as swiftly knowing that normal service had resumed.
The world number two, perhaps sensing the crowd were growing impatient for the Andy Murray show to follow immediately after, took just half an hour more to go two sets up and wrapped up proceedings in two hours 15 minutes.
"I think today I didn't play my best match," Nadal said with some understatement. "I think especially at the first set I played a little bit too nervous, a little bit not knowing exactly what to do.
"My movements were a little bit in a defensive way, not an aggressive way."
Serving to open the match, Bellucci fired two aces in the first game and then broke Nadal with a lucky net cord that stretched the Spaniard and left him defenseless against the stinging reply. Continued...