Nadal ensures World No. 1 ranking by advancing to 4th round

The Spaniard will next play either Italian maverick Fabio Fognini or Jiri Vesely.

By reaching the fourth round, Nadal has ensured he will retain the World No. 1 spot when the new rankings are issued on the Monday after Wimbledon.   -  AP

Rafael Nadal was kept on Centre Court longer than he would have liked but that did not stop him from putting Alex de Minaur firmly in his place with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Alicante-based Australian played his part in an entertaining duel as he chased after everything Nadal could throw at him but the world number one stuck to his own game plan to chalk up his third successive straight-sets win.

By reaching the fourth round, Nadal has ensured he will retain the World No. 1 spot when the new rankings are issued on the Monday after Wimbledon -  regardless of what happens between now and the Wimbledon final. Nadal has endured his fair share of losing to young upstarts at Wimbledon, having lost to players ranked 100 or lower in four of his five previous appearances, but there was no danger of that happening on Saturday.

His main target appeared to be getting off court before the 3pm local time kickoff of England's World Cup last-16 showdown with Sweden.

De Minaur made him play 26-minutes of extra time but the final result was never in doubt and a lunging volley winner sealed the win - and prompted a mass exodus from Centre Court as fans rushed to watch the football on their phones and tablets elsewhere in the grounds.

The Spaniard will next play either Italian maverick Fabio Fognini or Jiri Vesely as he bids to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since contesting the 2011 final.