Nadal aims for major quarterfinal

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:34 IST

Having spun a serve wide to Andre Agassi's backhand, Rafael Nadal charged toward the net. A crisp backhand volley followed.

Nadal aims for major quarterfinal

Wimbledon:

Having spun a serve wide to Andre Agassi's backhand, Rafael Nadal charged toward the net. A crisp backhand volley followed. That's right: Nadal played serve-and-volley tennis. At Wimbledon. And won the point. The consummate clay-courter is getting a handle on this grass thing. No Spaniard has won Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, and Nadal has said his goal is to challenge for the title within the next few years. First things first. Nadal won the last two French Opens, but he headed into Monday's fourth-round match at Wimbledon, against qualifier Irakli Labadze of Georgia, knowing he's never been to the quarterfinals at another Grand Slam tournament. Then again, as Agassi put it after losing to Nadal in the third round: "You leave a lot of room for a champion's heart and mind, and he can certainly be here with high expectations.'' After the middle Sunday's traditional day of rest for everyone, Wimbledon's second week starts with a unique treat in tennis, with all 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches on Monday's schedule. Only four of the top 12 men were still around after a surprise-filled first week, and 10 of the 16 remaining men reached Wimbledon's fourth round for the first time. One of those making his debut is Murray, a Scotsman who's the only British man or woman who reached Week 2. He upset third-seeded Andy Roddick on Saturday, right around the time England was losing in the World Cup quarterfinals - meaning only more attention would be diverted his way. Murray has assumed Tim Henman's mantle as the locals' hope for the first British men's champion at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936. There have been fewer stunners in the women's tournament, although defending champion Venus Williams is gone already, after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the third round. The 26th-seeded Jankovic aimed for another upset on Monday against 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina. With Williams out, the 2006 women's final will be the first at Wimbledon since 1999 without her or younger sister Serena - or both. (AP)

Topics : Tennis
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