Rafael Nadal Eases Past Dudi Sela in Round 1 at Wimbledon 2018

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2018

Rafael Nadal, of Spain celebrates winning a point in his men's singles match, against Dudi Sela, of Israel, on the second day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday July 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Ben Curtis/Associated Press

Rafael Nadal, the second seed for the men's 2018 Wimbledon tournament, easily beat Dudi Sela in three sets on Tuesday.

The match was played in a heatwave and saw Nadal cruise to the finish line despite some sloppy play in the final set. Set scores were 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Sela started well and was able to keep up with Nadal in the rallies early in the first set, and his serve was clicking as well. The two traded blows until the Israeli came to serve again at 4-3 and Nadal switched gears to grab a break for love.

Nadal pushed immediately for a routine hold, taking the opening set in the process. Sportswriter George Bellshaw thought it was easier for him to deal with the high temperatures:

George Bellshaw @BellshawGeorge

Set Nadal! Hotter conditions should suit him and he's got off to a solid start against Sela. 6-3 up.

He immediately grabbed a second break to open up the second set courtesy of an unforced error, and Sela's play continued to evaporate. He nearly set his opponent up for a second break with a double-fault, and while he was able to battle his way back into the game, he only appeared to be fending off the inevitable.

After another simple hold, the Spaniard again pushed to close out the second set, breaking Sela with some lovely returns.

Here's a look at the set stats:

George Bellshaw @BellshawGeorge

Nadal: 1 ace, 1 DF, 82% behind first serve, 5 BPs created & 2 converted. 3 UEs, 9 winners. Sela: 2 aces, 3 DFs, 65% behind first serve, 0 BPs created. 10 UEs, 7 winners. https://t.co/TCna3U9DF4

But the third set started with a slight shock, as Sela took a ton of risks in the opening game and Nadal appeared to lose focus, with a double-fault handing the Israeli a break. His celebrations didn't last long, however, with Nadal erasing the advantage in the very next game.

Both men lost control of their serve in the third set, but Nadal's experience saw him take the upper hand at key times.

Sela was able to prolong the match in the final games, but a comeback never seemed likely.

The Spaniard will face the winner of the match between Vasek Pospisil and Mikhail Kukushkin in Round 2.