Why Rafael Nadal lost so early at Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal was eliminated in the second round of Wimbledon. It's the first time since 2005 that Rafael Nadal has left a major tournament in the second round. What happened?
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Nothing fazed Rosol, especially down the stretch. Never showing a hint of nerves or inexperience, he was the one who seized control from the get-go when they resumed play after a taking a break while the roof was shifted into place.Skip to next paragraph
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Nadal didn't like the long delay one bit.
"Completely new stadium, with new roof, so the normal thing is cover the roof in 5-10 minutes," Nadal said.
When they came back out, Rosol immediately broke for a 1-0 lead, swatting a forehand passing shot that Nadal volleyed into the net. And then he held for 2-0, thanks to a trio of groundstroke winners and a service winner.
As it turned out, that was that.
Rosol still needed to keep holding serve, of course, which is easier said than done against Nadal, one of the top returners in the game. But Rosol did not fold. If anything, he got better. From 2-1, 40-30, Rosol won the last 13 points he served, seven with aces.
He kept coming up with huge, flat shots, hit hard as can be, aimed at the white chalk lines — and catching them. When Rosol smacked a forehand winner to hold at love for a 5-3 lead, moving within one game of by far the biggest victory of his career, he took an extra ball out of his pocket and slammed it to the ground.
Then, at 5-4, Rosol served it out this way: ace, forehand winner, ace, ace. He dropped to his knees — a pose generally reserved for winning a final, not a second-round match — and fell forward, staying face-down on the grass for a few seconds. When Rosol rose, he tossed his racket at the net; it rolled over the tape and onto Nadal's side. After a brief, awkward handshake, Nadal shuffled over and picked up the racket, handing it to Rosol.
The victor then basked in his standing ovation, placing a hand over his stomach while bowing to the four sides of the arena.
"He played more than unbelievable," Nadal said.
"You play against an inspired opponent and I am out. That's all. Is not a tragedy. Is only a tennis match," he added. "At the end, that's life. There is much more important things. Sure, I wanted to win, but I lost."
That one result rendered all of the others on Day 4 of Wimbledon relatively meaningless. For the record: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams reached the third round, as did Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, who needed five sets and more than four hours to get past 173rd-ranked British wild card James Ward.
And there were a couple of other upsets, such as Xavier Malisse eliminating 13th-seeded Gilles Simon — he of the pot-stirring comments about men deserving more prize money than women at Grand Slam tournaments — and Benoit Paire beating No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov. Also: Mirjana Lucic defeated 2007 Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli, and unseeded American Varvara Lepchenko got past No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
But this day will always belong to Lukas Rosol.
"Maybe it's once in life you can play like this against Rafael Nadal on Centre Court and you can win against him," Rosol said. "You know, it's not easy."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.