Tennis-Nadal reaches fourth round after hiccup

LONDON, June 28 Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:44pm BST

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LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal has made a habit this week of giving himself a tough start and in Saturday's third round he again handed the first set to a lowly opponent before imposing himself at Wimbledon.

The French Open champion, still apparently finding his grass court feet after the long claycourt season, moved into the fourth round with a 6-7(4) 6-1 6-1 6-1 victory over 63rd-ranked Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

Kukushkin, 26, had never won a game at Wimbledon before this year but, with little to lose against the world number one, came out guns blazing, using a big first serve and pounding forehand to keep the Spaniard at bay and win the first-set tiebreak.

But it did not last. As soon as Nadal found his returning rhythm and stepped in to punish Kukushkin's second serve it was one way traffic. The 14-times grand slam champion reached Wimbledon's second week for the first time since 2011 with a forehand winner. (Reporting by Clare Lovell; editing by Ken Ferris)