PURR Rafa Nadal grimaced through the pain threshold to stay on course to claim a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam.
The Spaniard had bandages around his lower abdomen and appeared to be struggling at times but was still too good for Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschuip to launch a revenge mission in the last eight against American Taylor Fritz.
Nadal, a two-time winner at SW19 but who has not reached the final since losing to Novak Djokovic in 2011, has been working hard towards his 18th consecutive Grand Slam match after triumphs in Melbourne and Paris.
It was clear Nadal was hampered by the injury, despite winning 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) after wasting three match points in two hours and 22 minutes on a dark center court.
Nadal, 36, said: “After everything I’ve been through and what’s happened to me over the last few years, it’s amazing that I can reach the quarter-finals after three years of not playing here.
“I am very, very happy.”
The win set up a clash with Fritz, who shocked the Spaniard with a straight-set win in March to clinch the title at Indian Wells.
Both struggled that day, with the American hampered by an ankle injury and Nadal with a chest problem.
Nadal added: “Every game is different. Taylor is playing well and had a great year.
“I know it’s going to be a difficult match, but it’s the last eight at Wimbledon – so it’s to be expected.”
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Fritz knocked out Australian qualifier Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 as he won the fourth consecutive round in straight sets.
He admitted: “I think he’s going to really beat me after that and want to play me 100 per cent healthy.
“But it’s going to be really fun and exciting. It’s amazing for me to have come this far, a dream, and I just have to be very aggressive and play the big points well.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5702269/rafael-nadal-pain-wimbledon-quarter-final-van-de-zandschulp/ Belted Rafael Nadal struggles through pain to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals with tough win over Van De Zandschulp