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Ferocious Nadal shows he still has hunger for fight

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Spain's Rafael Nadal reaches for the ball in his match against Slovakia's Martin Kilzan during day two of Wimbledon

Spain's Rafael Nadal reaches for the ball in his match against Slovakia's Martin Kilzan during day two of Wimbledon

Spain's Rafael Nadal reaches for the ball in his match against Slovakia's Martin Kilzan during day two of Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal has 14 Grand Slam titles under his belt and more than $70.5m in prize money in his bank account, but the passion that continues to drive him to the greatest heights burns as fiercely as ever.

A single rally in his first-round victory at Wimbledon yesterday over Slovakia's Martin Klizan showed why the 28-year-old Spaniard might just be the most ferocious competitor in tennis history.

Klizan was serving in the first game of the third set, Nadal having just levelled the match, when the world No 1 slipped and fell on the Centre Court's lush turf as he turned after hitting a backhand.

Nadal somehow scrambled to his feet, chased down a ball struck to the opposite corner and then kept running back and forth along the baseline as Klizan pulled him from side to side. On his fourth shot after his fall, Nadal, at full stretch, thundered an unstoppable backhand cross-court pass beyond the reach of the world No 51, who had come forward in readiness for the kill.

It was a stunning point and a wonderful demonstration of Nadal's unrivalled ability to turn defence into attack. For good measure, he played a point that was almost as remarkable early in the fourth set. Despite falling over before he had hit his shot, Nadal forced the ball over the net, picked himself up and hit a winning lob which landed just inside the baseline.

Nadal's 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory was only his second on these courts in the last three years. Twelve months ago he was beaten in the first round by Steve Darcis and in 2012 he fell in the second round to Lukas Rosol.

Both results were among the most surprising in Wimbledon history and Nadal will have the chance to avenge the first of them when he plays his next match tomorrow.

Rosol, who beat Benoît Paire 6-3 3-6 7-6 6-4, will face Nadal for only the second time since the most celebrated victory of his career, the Spaniard having won in straight sets when they met in Doha at the start of this year.

The win was Nadal's 700th at tour level. Only 10 other men in the Open era have reached that milestone and one of them, Roger Federer, will be waiting for Nadal in the semi-finals should both make it that far.

The seven-times Wimbledon champion opened his campaign in emphatic fashion, beating Italy's Paolo Lorenzi 6-1 6-1 6-3 in just 93 minutes.

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