Two-time champion Rafael Nadal marked his return to Centre Court with a 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Donald Young to reach the third round at Wimbledon today.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, who missed last year’s tournament through injury, looked to be easing to victory until he was broken by the aggressive American when serving for the match.
But the world number two broke back and served out to love to seal the win. Fourth seed Nadal will face Russia’s 30th seed Karen Khachanov on Friday.
He joins potential semi-final opponent Andy Murray in round three after the world number one beat Dustin Brown in straight sets.
Fellow top-four seeded players Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic play their second-round matches tomorrow.
“I played a solid match and served well until the break,” Nadal told BBC Sport. “It’s great to be in the third round without losing a set.
“I’m just trying to go day by day. I’m taking it easy, trying to enjoy every moment. This tournament is so special.”
After winning easily in Monday’s first-round tie against John Millman on Court One, this was Nadal’s first match back on Centre Court since a shock defeat by Dustin Brown in 2015 – he missed last year’s championships with a wrist injury.
That loss to Brown capped a miserable run of four straight losses to players ranked 100 or lower at the tournament he won in 2008 and 2010.
However, at times against Young, especially in the second set, Nadal looked back to his imperious best, continuing the form that saw him finish runner-up at the Australian Open and claim his 10th French Open title this season.
The 15-time Grand Slam champion hit 37 winners in total – many of those with his imposing forehand – and won 80 percent of points on his first serve.
Young hit 31 winners himself, the world number 43 providing a stern test and plenty of entertainment for the crowd, particularly when he halted Nadal’s progress in the third set.
Yet Nadal prevailed. He may have come into the tournament with questions over his current abilities on grass – Monday’s match was his first on the surface in two years – but this showing suggested he could be ready to emulate past successes at Wimbledon.
Elsewhere today, there were few upsets in this half of the men’s draw, which contains Nadal and Murray.
Two-time semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed less than two hours to beat Italy’s Simone Bolelli 6-1 7-5 6-2 – although the French 12th seed was troubled by the swarm of flying ants that descended on Wimbledon.
Tsonga faces American Sam Querrey in the third round after the 24th seed saw off Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-3.
Croatia’s seventh seed Marin Cilic eased past Germany’s Florian Mayer 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 7-5 to set up a tie against American 26th seed Steve Johnson.
Despite a laboured performance, ninth seed Kei Nishikori came through 6-4 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 7-6 (8-6) against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky and will meet Spain’s 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut next.
However, 14th seed Lucas Pouille of France is out, beaten by 2013 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz, with the Pole sealing a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-1 win.