Reality bites for rusty Rosol
After upsetting world No 2 Nadal, the Czech is blown away
It was closer to 48 hours of fame than 15 minutes, but by yesterday afternoon Lukas Rosol, having reached for the stars and grasped them on Thursday night with a Centre Court victory over Rafael Nadal, was the man who fell to earth. Court 12 was the location this time, and everything about the occasion was different.
Unlike the show court with a closed roof, the wind blew and the sun dazzled; with the television cameras trained elsewhere, a far smaller crowd was heard only in isolated bursts and soon grew disappointed; above all, where he had played dazzlingly to bridge a gap of 98 world ranking spots in the previous round, Rosol was unable to touch any such heights against a solid German opponent, Philipp Kohlschreiber, the 27th seed, who ended the dream in workmanlike fashion by 6-2 6-3 7-6 in well under two hours.
As Rosol took his bow to sympathetic applause, the modest winner slipped quietly away, as unnoticed as the Czech had been until two days ago.
The great Jimmy Connors had called Rosol a "stopper"; someone unlikely to progress deep into a major tournament but capable of stopping others doing so, as he had done in such sensational fashion against the world No 2. Nadal, had he been watching yesterday, might have wondered how he ever contrived to lose. His conqueror did not manage a single break point in 14 games and came up with only a few of the forehands that had whipped past the Spaniard with such ferocity.
Uncomfortable with the wind and strangely unsure of himself, judging from the number of times he looked over at his coach, Slava Dosedel, he was broken in the third game of the match and never recovered against an opponent capable of some fierce returns as well as a delicate touch when required. After taking a bow and having rather more time than on Thursday night to digest his thoughts, Rosol said: "I'm a little bit disappointed but I tried my best. The wind didn't help me. He was better today and playing pretty good. He knew how to play against me."
Kohlschreiber is having a good year, and reaching the last 16 equals his best Grand Slam result. Having studied Thursday night's match he decided to mix his game up, take the pace off the ball and try to lure Rosol to the net, where he is less comfortable. "I knew for sure he is in a great shape, a lot of confidence," Kohlschreiber said. "But I think I had the right gameplan against him."
Kohlschreiber bears a remarkable facial likeness to Rosol, although at 5ft 10in he is considerably shorter and, like Spain's David Ferrer, must often think in the modern game he is inhabiting a land of the giants. It proved no disadvantage here for a man who, it is easy to forget, had also beaten Nadal only a fortnight ago at the Halle tournament.
A deft drop-shot brought him a second break in the opening set, which was over in little more than half an hour, and the next set was even quicker, Kohlschreiber's service games flying past in no time while he again broke twice.
What proved to be the final set was closer, Rosol holding serve more confidently and touching speeds of up to 132mph, but as the wind got up again he went 4-0 down in the tie-break and managed only a brief flurry of defiance in saving three match points before putting a backhand down the line just wide.
"I have to look forward," Rosol said. That means a Challenger event in Braunschweig starting tomorrow – an event that will make even breezy old Court 12 at the All England Club feel exotic.
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