Rafael Nadal restored roar to his declarative drives—then he pressed the mute button on Lorenzo Sonego.
Continuing his quest for the calendar Grand Slam, Nadal swept Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to charge into the Wimbledon fourth round for the 10th time.
It was Nadal’s 17th consecutive Grand Slam win and featured a third-set tiff between the pair.
The second-seeded Spaniard was miffed with the timing of Sonego’s extended grunt and the Italian was annoyed by Nadal’s move at 4-all.
Facing a 2-4 third-set deficit, Sonego won eight of nine points breaking back at love to level at 4-all. Prior to that break, Sonego hadn’t had a break point all day.
At that point, Nadal, a career-long grunter himself, took matters into his own hands calling the lanky Italian to net for a brief discussion.
The reigning Australian Open and Roland Garros champion completed a two-hour, four-minute triumph—his most effective and efficient performance of Wimbledon’s week one—the two-time Wimbledon champion and Sonego again engaged in a discussion at net following the post-match handshake.
Afterward, Nadal said he was wrong for calling Sonego to net and apologized to the Italian for it.
“I have to say that I was wrong,” Nadal told the media. “Probably I will not — I should not call him on the net. So apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognize that.
“Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment, because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologize for that.”
Acknowleding the pair had “issues,” Nadal said he hoped it was resolved after the lockerrom apology.
“My intention was never to bother him at all,” Nadal said. “Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some codes between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”
For much of the match, Nadal let his racquet do the talking.
Playing with vigor and a menacing bite on his twisting topspin forehand, Nadal belted 24 winners. When Nadal wasn’t cracking drives into the corners, he was closing with forward force winning 20 of 28 trips to net.
The 36-year-old Spaniard called it his best performance of the tournament. Nadal raised his Grand Slam record to 308-41.
Next up for Nadal is 25th-ranked Botic van de Zandschulp, who dispatched Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-1. Nadal swept van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 en route to his 14th Roland Garros championship.