Even the best fall down sometimes. This was recently true for Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, who suffered an excruciating 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 upset in the second round of Wimbledon against Czechoslovakian player Lukas Rosol.
With this loss comes mind-blowing statistics, beginning with the fact that this is the first time in seven years that Nadal has lost this early in a major championship. He has also won 11 Grand Slam singles titles, while Rosol has only won five Grand Slam matches. Rosol is ranked No. 100 in the world by the ATP World Tour and has acquired the unofficial title of lowest-ranked player to defeat Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament. Now sitting at No. 3 in the world after the loss, Nadal previously reached the finals of Wimbledon the last five times he competed in the tournament, winning the whole thing twice.
The statistics could go on and on, but the point is clear — Rosol arguably pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the past decade at the All England Club. He has since been knocked out of the tournament, but let’s take a moment to explore this momentous mark in tennis history.
Here’s how it all played out.
From the moment the racket made contact with the ball, it was clear that Rosol was determined to change his fate from past appearances. Coming out with quick attacks on the baseline, the Czech threw the Spaniard off track and astoundingly managed to keep him off. That may have had something to do with the 65 winners Rosol cranked out at staggering speeds.
His groundstrokes from both his forehand and backhand were absolutely blazing; registering at 90 mph on average and topping off at 99 mph. Let’s put that into perspective, shall we? Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg made headlines when he hit 99 mph on a pitch during his first career road game. A sneeze travels out of your mouth at nearly 100 mph. Now that’s what I call some serious speed.
Those are just his groundstrokes! His serve averaged 124 mph, and he even mustered up a 134-mph serve in the fifth and final set. He finished the match with 22 aces.
Needless to say, Rosol’s impeccable performance left Nadal in a foul mood throughout the contest. Rosol completely dominated play for the first three sets, losing only the first to Nadal by a hair in the tiebreaker.
Nadal paused play several times throughout the match, claiming that Rosol’s movements were distracting him during his service game. Some believe they saw Nadal deliberately bump into Rosol on the crossover, but that occurrence is open for speculation. Regardless, Nadal’s unfriendly actions seemed not only unwarranted but also petty for a player with such prestige and professionalism.
This was the case through the first three sets. Nadal undeniably said that he wasn’t acting like himself, and he wasn’t in the correct mindset to be competing. Nonetheless he pressed on and pulled out an award-winning performance in the fourth set, tying the score at two sets apiece.
Just when it appeared as though the momentum was starting to shift in favor of the reigning French Open champion, play was temporarily halted for nearly an hour while the roof was closed over the court.
This sealed the deal for Rosol and threw dirt in the wound of Nadal. Rosol came out of the locker room fired up and determined to leave everything he had on the court. Though Nadal tried to keep up, the Czech’s efforts were too much to bear, winning the epic match in five sets.
It just goes to show that on any given day, in any sport, you just never know who is going to win.
This match sent Nadal packing back to Spain, where he will recollect and prepare himself to return and compete in the Olympics at the All England Club in a month’s time.
As for the remaining players in the draw, this outcome has stirred up mixed reviews. Now seeded at No. 2 in the world, Roger Federer didn’t hide his excitement for Nadal’s loss, stating that it’s good to see he is beatable. No. 4 in the world and British fan favorite Andy Murray, on the other hand, said that it’s disheartening for Nadal, but the top four can only continue their dominance for so long. He even questioned whether their reign was coming to a close.
Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell, but for now reigning No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on Federer for the top end of the bracket, while Murray will attempt to take down Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis.
Regardless of which competitors reach the finals, it’s going to be one hell of a game.