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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, July 3, 2017

 
Rafael Nadal

In his first Wimbledon match since 2015, Rafael Nadal cranked 30 winners cruising past John Millman, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, into a second-round clash with Donald Young.

Photo credit: Ashley Western/CameraSport

Realizing his La Decima dream, Rafael Nadal celebrated his Roland Garros triumph with a return to his preferred surface: Water.

The King of Clay spent some of grass-court season fishing back home in Mallorca.

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Today, Nadal made a historic splash in his long-awaited transition to turf.

In his first grass-court match since 2015, the Roland Garros champion showed striking transition skills belting a banana forehand down the line in a 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of Australia’s John Millman.

It was Nadal’s 850th career victory.



The 31-year-old Spaniard is the seventh man in ATP history to reach the 859-win mark, joining Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi, who is on site coaching Novak Djokovic.

“I was hitting well. I think I had good feelings with the ball during the whole week of practice,” Nadal said. “Then, you know, on grass you meet players that they can be very aggressive, and anything can happen, no?

“Is obvious at the beginning I started trying to not have a lot of mistakes, playing more safe. I finished the match hitting some great forehands, no? That's the way. I need to play aggressive with my forehand. Obviously, I need to serve well. That's the only way that I can have chances to have good result here.”

The two-time Wimbledon champion crunched 30 winners, won 19 of 25 trips to net and broke serve eight times in his first Wimbledon win since sweeping Thomaz Bellucci in his 2015 opener. Nadal attacked his second serve aggressively—an aspect of his game he worked on repeatedly during practice last week.

Hitting with authority, Nadal covered the court quickly cruising through a one hour, 46-minute victory.

“It's a big change or big difference playing here or playing in hard or clay, no?” Nadal said. “Of course, I need to adjust my game. Of course, I can practice. But the only way to find your way on how to play well here is playing matches. Today was a positive one, and have another opportunity after tomorrow.”



The fourth-seeded Spaniard faces American Donald Young in the second round. The left-handed Young led Denis Istomin, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-2 when Istomin retired. 

“He's an aggressive player. He's a player that plays quick, hits the ball so quick,” Nadal said of Young. “Sometimes he's able to play at a very, very high level. Is a dangerous opponent, no? Is a lefty, too, so that makes a big difference.

“At the same time he's a player that, as I said before, is quick. He can decide the balls quick. He can hit a lot of winners with his forehand especially. He has great movements.

“So is going to be a tough, tough match. He played some matches already on grass this year. So I need to play well, obviously.”


 

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