Rafa Nadal's classy Wimbledon tribute after brutal statement

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Rafael Nadal comiserates with beaten Wimbledon opponent Botic van de Zandschulp.
Fans were in raptures after Rafael Nadal paid a heartfelt tribute to Wimbledon after the celebration of the centre court centenary on Monday. (Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal is continuing his march towards a third grand slam final for the year at Wimbledon, and the Spanish star has been praised for some classy comments in the wake of a third round demolition job.

The Australian and French Open champion made short work of 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6) to win through to the quarter finals, where he'll face American star Taylor Fritz.

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Nadal's imperious form continued despite the injury concerns surrounding him prior to the tournament, but those worries were far from his mind after his victory.

Instead, in his comments after the match, Nadal discussed the previous day's tribute to past Wimbledon champions.

The 22-time grand slam champion and two-time Wimbledon winner said it had been an incredibly special moment to celebrate the centenary of centre court with so many legends of the sport.

"Yesterday had been a very beautiful thing to share with all these legends of our sport, it was a very emotional moment and thanks to Wimbledon for that opportunity," he said.

"The centre court, 100 years, it's something very special and for me to be part of this group of legends has been unforgettable, so thank you for that."

Now, reaching his eighth quarter-final on the back of his recent French Open win, Nadal beamed: "After all the things that happened the last couple of months, after three years away from Wimbledon, it's amazing for me to come back like this, so very, very happy."

He continues to win despite his attempts to disguise physical ailments.

When asked about his abdomen being strapped, Nadal was the model of politeness before he gently chided his questioner: "Sorry, but I'm a little bit tired of talking about my body."

Fritz had earlier roared past Australia's battling qualifier Jason Kubler, ending the Brisbane man's glorious six-win run with a comfortable straight-sets win, 6-3 6-1 6-4.

"It is crazy to go from where I was at maybe mentally after Queen's (Club), like feeling injured, I've just lost like three matches in a row, to now I'm in my first slam quarter-final," Fritz said.

"It's a big jump. It's so interesting. It's kind of like how tennis is. One, two good weeks, five or six good matches in a row, can kind of just change everything."

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The World No.4, already halfway to the holy grail of tennis with his wins at Melbourne Park and Roland Garros, powered past the Dutchman after an incredible display that featured what some are describing as the 'shot of the tournament'.

Having already gone two sets up, Nadal faced a sterner test against his Dutch opponent in the third set.

Van de Zandschulp fought tooth and nail to hold his own serve at a crucial juncture midway through the set, but the Dutchman had no answers to a piece of magic from Nadal.

Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his third round Wimbledon match against Botic van de Zandschulp.
Rafael Nadal is through to a Wimbledon quarter-final match-up against Taylor Fritz. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Dutchman must have thought he'd levelled the game at deuce when he left Nadal stretching to retrieve a volley on his own baseline.

However, van de Zandschulp and viewers were left in disbelief after Nadal showed extraordinary reflexes and ingenuity to flick a backhand winner past his hapless opponent.

The moment of genius from the 22-time grand slam champion left fans in awe.

Nadal's win moves him one step closer to a semi-final showdown with Nick Kyrgios, after the Aussie moved into the last-eight with a thrilling five-set victory over American rising star, Brandon Nakashima.

In the same half of the draw as Kyrgios, Nadal and his old Australian foe are now just a match each away from rekindling one of Wimbledon's most talked-about rivalries in what would be a blockbuster semi-final.

Not that Nadal will allow himself to think about that yet when he has 11th-seeded Taylor Fritz standing in his way in the last eight.

For as Nadal noted after his Centre Court triumph in two hours, 22 minutes on Monday, Fritz is having an amazing year.

"He won his first Masters final this year - against me (in Indian Wells)," smiled the two-time Wimbledon champ.

With AAP

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