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Nadal Out! The Match of the Day | June | 2012 Articles

Nadal Out! The Match of the Day

Written by Brandon Lawrence on .

Calling the Lukas Rosol- Rafael Nadal match the match of the day feels insulting to the magnitude of the upset. The 100th-ranked Czech came into the match today as the ultimate underdog. Being ranked No. 100 in the world, having failed in the first round of qualifying the past five years at Wimbledon, and having to face the two-time champion and multiple-time runner up, Rosol did not look to be in a great position. Nadal had just won his 7th Roland Garros title, and there was no reason to think this match would be any different from the hundreds of early round matches Nadal had won before. It was clear from the start that this would be no routine match, and that Rosol was playing inspired, but nothing early on indicated that Nadal would actually be toppled.

From early on it appeared that Rosol had brought his 'A' game, and that Nadal was off. This wasn't unusual, as Nadal had appeared uneasy in his first round match but had pulled it out anyway. The first set went to a tiebreaker, and Rosol had opportunites, but Nadal pulled it out deep in the tiebreaker. The second set was where things turned around a bit. Rosol was able to secure a break and serve it out. It was almost a carbon copy in the third set, and Rosol again served it out in style. He looked like he had a great shot to win the match, but others had been up two sets to one over Nadal at Wimbledon. The list is actually rather long. Petzschner, Kendrick, and Hasse all were in the same position and weren't able to close it out.

The fourth set began, and Rosol held on early, but then the floodgates seemed to open. Nadal began to chase down more balls and put more pressure on Rosol's serve, and when he secured the break at 2-2, he let out a loud scream and looked as pumped up as he had been all match. The rest of the fourth set seemed like a formality, and it was, as Nadal broke again to win the set 6-2. Rosol looked to be in deep trouble and about to join the rest of Nadal's conquered foes at the All England Club.

Then that's where the match turned. Due to the possibility that they wouldn't be able to finish the match in daylight, the tournament official immediately announced to the players that they would close the roof. In doing so they delayed the match for 30 minutes as the roof was closed and temperature normalized. Nadal wasn't happy about the decision but unlike the situation at the French Open, the tournament referee left nothing up for discussion. The players went back to the locker room and when they came out, Rosol was a different man. He seemed possessed, and in the first game of the set, he broke Nadal after a couple uncharacterisitc errors from Nadal and a couple of unreal shots from the Czech man. Then Rosol had the task in front him, very clearly. He had to hold serve five times. It didn't matter what Nadal did from then out, all Rosol cared about was holding serve. Nadal's service games became very short, as Rosol went for broke early. His own service games were a thing to behold. Routinely hitting serves at 130 mph or greater, he didn't give Nadal a single opportunity in the fifth set. Each serve that was returned by Nadal was met with huge groundstrokes by Rosol, and Nadal could not make a dent in the Czech's service games.  At 5-4, serving for the match, the television commentators kept wondering if or when Rosol would get tight. He never did, and after three unreturnable serves and a monster forehand, Rosol had beaten the number two player in the world.

Going forward, the bottom half of the draw has been blown wide open. This is Andy Murray's best shot to win a major.  Without Nadal, he has to be the favorite to come out of the bottom half, but there are about 5-7 players who also have a great chance to take advantage of Rosol's huge upset. Regardless of how Rosol does the rest of the tournament, he will always have this.  A victory over Rafael Nadal, in his prime, at Wimbledon, on Centre Court.

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