Rafael Nadal closes on Leg 3 of Grand Slam with Taylor Fritz up next at Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal has never won the Grand Slam, clinching all four major championships in the same calendar year, something that has been done three times on the men’s side (twice by Rod Laver and once by Don Budge). Now, Nadal is more than halfway there on attaining No. 3 at Wimbledon.
He won the Australian Open and French Open, and would advance to the Wimbledon semifinals with a victory Wednesday over Taylor Fritz of Rancho Palos Verdes. Fritz beat Nadal in the finals of the PNB Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March.
If Nadal wins, it keeps alive the potential for another Sunday showdown with Novak Djokovic. They have played each other a record 59 times, including in the finals of all four major championships.
But if Fritz wins, he would advance to the semifinals and have a chance to become the first American man in the Wimbledon finals since Andy Roddick in 2009. Of course, those are two awfully steep hills to climb.
“I try to just approach it like how I did last time, treat it like any other match because I’ve been playing well,” Fritz said. “It’s about kind of just replicating the way I’ve been playing and trusting that that will be enough.”
Djokovic has won 26 consecutive Wimbledon matches, but he had a real gut check Tuesday on Centre Court. He dropped the first two sets to Italy’s Jannik Sinner.
The Serbian star recovered to win three sets in a row and said the experience felt like two distinctly different matches.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley is a massive tennis fan, and in particular a devout Rafael Nadal fan. He and wife Amy went to Wimbledon for first time.
“From the start of the third, I played three really very solid, very high-quality tennis sets,” Djokovic said. “From the very beginning of the third when I broke his serve early I felt that I found my rhythm and tempo on the shots.”
Djokovic will play England’s Cameron Norrie, who advanced with a victory over Belgium’s David Goffin. Until Wimbledon this year, Norrie had never made it past the third round of a major.
“Every victory from now onwards is a big deal for him. I know that,” Djokovic said. “But, you know, I practiced a few times. I know his game well. He’s been around. Of course I will do my homework and get ready.”
The atmosphere at the end of the day was electric, with Djokovic-Sinner and Norrie-Goffin being shown on split screen on the giant video board at the base on Henman Hill, so packed with fans there was no room to move.
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, divided their time between Centre Court and Court 1, getting glimpses of both matches live.
Germany’s Tatjana Maria, who is ranked 103rd in the world and last year gave birth to her second child, advanced to her first Wimbledon semifinal with a victory over countrywoman Jule Niemeier. Until this tournament, Maria had never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam event.
“I have goosebumps everywhere,” said Maria, who will face Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.
And as for motherhood?
“I think for me that’s the most important in my life, to be a mom of my two kids,” Maria said.
“Nothing will change this. I’m here, yeah, I’m in the semifinal of Wimbledon, it’s crazy, but I’m still a mom. After this I will go out over there and I will see my kids and I will do the same thing what I do every single day.
“I will change her Pampers, I mean, everything normal. I try to keep normal as much as possible, because that was what makes me proudest is to be a mom.”
Taking in a day at the championships Tuesday was CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, who was attending a Rolex event and made the trip with his wife, Courtney, their two young children, and Courtney’s mom.
Although he’s best known for his NFL and golf coverage, Nantz did cover tennis for the network for several years. He said he enjoyed it but didn’t have the solid footing he feels when covering over sports.
“I felt like I had pretty good knowledge of it, but I didn’t feel like I could talk the language,” he said. “The good thing is you don’t over-talk the sport; you let the points play, and then you get a reset in between the points, but most of that time is analyst time. So I stayed in my lane, big time. I never deviated, just occasionally dropping in a little nugget or two. But by and large, I was a scene-setter and handoff guy.”
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