sport

Rafa and Fed march on

Rafael Nadal recovered from losing the opening set to beat Mikhail Kukushkin in the third round of Wimbledon.

But seven-time champion Roger Federer had a far easier time of it on Centre Court, beating world No 35 Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3 6-1 6-3.

While rain held up proceedings on all the other courts, second seed Nadal prevailed 6-7 (4/7) 6-1 6-1 6-1 under the Centre Court roof to book a last-16 meeting with Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios.

After dropping the opening sets in his earlier matches against Martin Klizan and Lukas Rosol, Nadal did the same against Kukushkin, the world No 63 from Kazakhstan.

But his recovery spelt out Nadal's ambition for the week ahead as he sprinted through the next three sets for the loss of just three games, completing victory in two hours and 34 minutes.

Watched from the Royal Box by sporting stars including former Real Madrid star David Beckham, Spaniard Nadal - a supporter of the Bernabeu giants - finished with his arms aloft, flinging his wristbands and headband into the adoring crowd, and departed with a broad smile across his face.

Three matches in, and it appears Nadal has played himself into peak form, comfortable again on grass after the transition from clay, and in the frame to land what would be his third Wimbledon title.

"I finished all the matches playing better than (how) I started, and that's always very positive," Nadal said.

"At the beginning he was playing really long, no mistakes, very aggressive," Nadal added. "And I had a few mistakes ... I made a few unforced errors with that second serve. In the tiebreak, I didn't serve my best."

Later in the afternoon, Federer got back to the second week at Wimbledon after last year's early exit and the Swiss veteran looks in ominously good form.

The fourth seed saved the only two break points he faced and was never really tested.

Federer, who has won a record 17 Grand Slam titles, lost in the second round at the All England Club in 2013, ending his streak of reaching the quarter-finals at 36 consecutive major tournaments.

Giraldo never has still been past the third round at a slam.

Federer joined Andy Murray in reaching round four without dropping a set, and said: "I'm very pleased.

"It's always good to keep moving on. I'm aware of the dangers on this surface. You're always worried about the first week.

"For me it's about maintaining a good level. I've got a few niggling things going on but nothing that worries me. I need to keep playing aggressive."