Nadal stunned by unsung Rosol
Thursday 28 June 2012
Unsung Czech Lukas Rosol pulled off one of the biggest Wimbledon shocks in living memory by dumping two-time champion Rafael Nadal out at the second-round stage tonight.
When the 26-year-old from Brno lost the first set on a tie-break, it appeared he was on his way to becoming the latest in a long line of low-ranked players to be swept aside by one of the game's leading names early in a grand slam tournament.
But the right-hander stumbled across the correct formula to come back against the 11-time grand slam winner and send him packing 6-7 (11/9) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 - taking the decider under the Centre Court roof.
A 45-minute delay - initially scheduled to be just a half-hour break - preceded the fifth set, with officials sending the players back to the locker rooms to allow for the roof to be closed under fading light.
Nadal was unhappy when told. He had also been frustrated early in the third set when he complained to the umpire, seemingly angry about Rosol bouncing on the spot while preparing to serve.
While Rosol has now reached the third round of one of the four main tournaments for just the second time in his largely nomadic career, it is the earliest that Nadal has been knocked out of a grand slam since his second-round defeat to Gilles Muller at Wimbledon seven years ago.
Rosol said: "It is a miracle for me - I never expected this.
"There are so many emotions. He is a superstar but I played unbelievable today. I hope I can play one more match like this.
"I am happy and congratulations to Rafa. He played a good match but I was better."
Nadal's exit also means that he no longer sits in Andy Murray's half of the draw. The British number one has fallen foul of the Spaniard at the semi-final stage in each of the last two years, but should his progress continue, he no longer has to worry about him.
For whatever reason, Nadal from the off did not look like the man who won a record seventh French Open just 18 days ago.
Having broken serve in the fifth game, he immediately conceded his own in the next and had to stave off set point at 6-5 and also in a tie-break which he eventually won 11-9.
Rosol, whose third-round appearance at the French Open last year was his career best, quickly put the disappointment behind him to break at the start of the second set and then held out to take it, before stealing Nadal's serve in the third game of the next.
It was after that disappointment that Nadal started his animated chat with the umpire and, with his focus clearly absent, he fell two sets to one behind, chuntering about something being "not fair".
The prospect of an embarrassing loss clearly registered with him though, and he broke twice in succession to take the fourth set in a manner that he had been expected to perform throughout.
But that was not the end of the drama, with both players then being told to leave the court for 30 minutes while the roof was closed to allow for the failing light. Back in form at that stage, Nadal was unhappy and again made his feelings known before exiting the arena.
The delay eventually reached close to 45 minutes and when the players resumed, Nadal lost serve in the opening game when he netted a normally regulation forehand.
But, with Rosol back on song with ball in hand and casually hitting winners at will, a break back was not forthcoming and the underdog eased home, landing three aces in the final game and collapsing to the ground in celebration.
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