Rafael Nadal secured his place in round three of Wimbledon following a 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Ricardas Berankis.
The No. 2 seed remains on course for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam singles title, despite a spirited effort from Berankis.
Nadal took the opening set after breaking for 6-4 on his opponent’s final service game of the opener.
But Berankis then stunned the Centre Court crowd in the second set, breaking Nadal early before opening up a 3-1 advantage.
However, the Spaniard rallied to ruthlessly take the next three games in a row to lead.
The two exchanged holds before the two-time former champion sensed the nerves in his opponent and seized the advantage.
Berankis put up a brave fight to save three set points, but fourth time was a charm for Nadal, who saw his opponent’s wayward forehand error hand him the set.
Seemingly facing a mountain to climb to get back in the match, the Lithuanian was undaunted and was able to break Nadal in the opening game of the third set to give himself hope.
A wonderful forehand winner for 5-3 put Berankis in control of the set which he was able to eventually serve out.
However, any thoughts of a comeback or upset were swiftly put to bed as Nadal broke to love in the second game of the fourth.
Berankis was able to save two break points to avoid a double break however, as he claimed the advantage in the fourth game, the covers came on due to an unwelcome downpour and play was suspended.
The roof was eventually shut and the players returned to action after a nearly an hour delay.
After the long wait, Berankis converted game point with an ace on his second serve to get on the board.
Image credit: Getty Images
Berankis went down fighting with two more holds but it was ultimately left to Nadal to serve out the victory in a match where he wasn’t at his fluid best.
“Well, everyday is a challenge, that’s the truth,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “All the opponents are difficult, we are playing against the best players in the world, and especially in these conditions, a little bit more.
“I didn’t play much on grass in the last three years, so everyday is an opportunity to improve and today I am through, so that has given me the chance to keep going, so I’m happy for that.
“I need to improve, but I think that the fourth set was much better, I think there was a good level of tennis in that fourth set. I served much better at the end of the match and I was able to play a little bit more aggressively with the forehand.
“At the beginning, there were too many mistakes. But, as a process, it’s important for me to accept that things are not perfect and keep working, being humble and accept the challenge and just think positive things all the time, even when things are not going the best way possible.”
Nadal now faces Italian Lorenzo Sonego in round three as his quest to add to the Australian and French Open titles he’s already collected this year continues.
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