Nadal shocked in second round exit

No one saw this coming. Not even the 100th ranked Czechoslovakian could have dreamt of this.

Rafael Nadal was taken out by the 26-year-old Czech Lukas Rosol 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round at Wimbledon in Nadal’s earliest exit from a Grand Slam since the second round of 2005 also at Wimbledon.

It would have made a massive upset had the champion of the most recent Grand Slam in Nadal been defeated this early in the draw. It would would have been shocking enough had the two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal lost in just his second match of the tournament. But this became an upset of historic proportions in that the man who had made his last five championshipship matches at the All England Club was vanquished by a man who had lost his last five first round qualifying matches.

“I’m not just surprised; it’s like a miracle for me,” Rosol said. “I never expected something like this.”

There was little that Nadal could do to limit the sheer power that Rosol displayed. And there was nothing he could do to stop the speed train that Rosol became in the final set.

Any qualms or pressure heading into a fifth set after being dictated to in the fourth? Rosol showed none in breaking Nadal in the first game of the set. Any sign of nerves after the break? Rosol just overpowered Nadal by holding serve to complete the service break. Any signs of tightning up while serving for the match? The final game was just pure domination on the part of Rosol.

Ace. Forehand winner. Ace. And then a 131 mph ace to close it out.

“I don’t know what to say,” Rosol said. “It’s just a miracle for me…so many emotions.”

It wasn’t that Nadal played poorly. He converted 67% of his serves and had only 16 unforced errors for the match. The problem was that Rosol just overwhelmed Nadal with cracking shots to total 65 winners for the match.

Nadal tried just about everything he could to slow Rosol down, taking extra time during the changeovers and trying to buy as much time as possible in between points, but it proved to be futile.

It only got worse for Nadal in the fifth set as he had absolutely no answer for Rosol. The Czech dominated in the final set with seven aces and 20 winners to go along with just two unforced errors. He would lose just three points on serve in the fifth and had his way in running Nadal off the court with his power. It was just a matter of Rosol being too good.

“In the fifth, yes,” Nadal said. “In the fifth set, he played more than unbelievable. That’s fine. First three sets I didn’t play well. I didn’t have the right inspiration.”

Nadal might have seen the writing on the wall early on in the match as Rosol overcame a quick break to push the first set to a tiebreak and held two set points. Rosol’s quick-paced approach was too much for Nadal to handle in the ensuing two sets and the danger signs were fast approaching as the Spaniard fell behind two sets to one.

Nadal rediscovered his game – and the momentum – in the fourth, but that was halted as play was momentarily suspended due to light and the roof at Centre Court was closed. That was all Rosol would need to crush Nadal in the final set.

Nadal is still unequivocally a force to be dealt with and this match should be considered as nothing more than a hiccup. Nevertheless, for a man who has lost only once previously in a five-setter at the immaculate lawns of Wimbledon – that being to Roger Federer who was in the height of his prowess in the 2007 championship – and just four times in five set matches beforehand (three of which were at the hands of Federer and Novak Djokovic), the disappointment will only proliferate as Nadal will surrender his number two ranking by the end of the tournament.

For Rosol, his celebration at the conclusion of the match said it all as he fell to the ground in a manner similar to the way Nadal has celebrated upon winning at Wimbledon. It will be a night to remember for the Czech. It will certainly be a dream come true for man who just checkmated one of the greatest the game has seen.

Categories: Columnist,Tennis