Published November 20, 2014
In one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam tennis history, little-known Czech Lukas Rosol toppled the great Rafael Nadal in a second-round match Thursday at Wimbledon.
The 100th-ranked Rosol stunned the second-seeded former world No. 1 in five sets, 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, on the famed Centre Court.
The 26-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal had reached the final in his last five trips to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, including titles in 2008 and 2010.
After Nadal won the fourth set easily against Rosol, officials controversially decided to close the roof on Centre Court because of impending nightfall.
Following a 30-minute roof-closure delay, Rosol stunned Nadal by breaking the Spaniard to open the fifth set. The unheralded Czech would then hold his powerful serve the rest of the way to pull off the shocker.
Rosol served for the match at 5-4 in the fifth and blew Nadal away with a love game, including a resounding match-ending ace for his 20th winner of the set on his first match point of the night.
The upstart Czech, playing in the Wimbledon main draw for the first time, out- served and simply overpowered Nadal in the final stanza.
"I'm not just surprised, it's like a miracle for me," Rosol said. "I never expected something like this."
Rosol, behind the powerful serve and fearless returns, posted the monumental upset in 3 hours, 18 minutes with the help of 22 aces. He broke Nadal four times, while the super Spaniard, who fired 19 aces himself, settled for three breaks in a losing effort.
The 26-year-old Rosol had only ever won three ATP-level grass-court matches prior to Thursday.
"I think I was better today a little bit," Rosol said.
In the third set, a frustrated Nadal complained to the chair umpire about Rosol's antics before his serve. The 6-foot-5 Czech was dancing around on the baseline and making heavy breathing noises while Nadal prepared to serve.
After Nadal's complaints went ignored, he sulked around the court and then appeared to deliberately brush into Rosol during a changeover.
"I was concentrating on myself," Rosol said. "I don't know what he was complaining about."
This marks Nadal's earliest loss at a major event since Gilles Muller topped him in the second round at Wimbledon back in 2005. And Rosol is the lowest- ranked player to beat him at a Slam.
Nadal is an 11-time major champion who was fresh off his seventh French Open title in Paris a few weeks ago. He had appeared in the last five Grand Slam finals, winning two French Opens and losing to Novak Djokovic here at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year and the Australian Open this year.
The lefthanded Nadal defeated Djokovic in the French Open final just 17 days ago.
Meanwhile, three-time semifinalist Andy Murray and three-time runner-up Andy Roddick were a pair of second-round victors at The Championships.
The fourth-seeded Murray snuck past massive-serving 6-foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) in just over three hours on Centre Court, while the 30th-seeded Roddick struck 13 aces and was broken only once in getting past speedy German Bjorn Phau 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 in just over two hours on Court 2.
Murray broke Karlovic, who smacked 17 aces, four times while being broken only once on a hot and sunny Day 4.
Afterwards, Karlovic accused the line judges of favoring Murray after they called a number of foot faults against him.
Karlovic said some of the calls were "outrageous." He added that "it was always when it was 30-all or in a tiebreak. I mean, what is this? Is it Davis Cup or is it Wimbledon?"
Murray, who reached the semis here the previous three years, is trying to give Britain its first male Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry way back in 1936.
Up next for the Scot will be quality Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.
The former world No. 1 and former U.S. Open champion Roddick, who lost to the great Roger Federer in a trio of finals at the venerable All England Club, will meet seventh-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer on Saturday.
Roddick was a grass-court titlist in Eastbourne last week.
"The good patches and the bad patches are all between the ears," Roddick said. "I'm still enjoying myself on the tennis courts, so it's not for anybody else to say whether I can or can't play."
Ferrer, fresh off his grass-court title in the Netherlands last week, handled France's Kenny de Schepper 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday.
In other action featuring top-10 seeds, No. 5 Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, No. 9 Argentine Juan Martin del Potro topped Japan's Go Soeda 6-2, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, and No. 10 American Mardy Fish outdistanced Brit James Ward 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3. The former Aussie Open runner-up Tsonga was a Wimbledon semifinalist a year ago, while del Potro is a former U.S. Open champion who has never fared very well at the AELTC.
Fish, playing his first tennis since March this week, needed 4 hours, 13 minutes to stave off the game Ward on Court 1. The American swatted 26 aces en route to the unexpectedly-tough victory.
The 30-year-old Fish will face rising Belgian David Goffin in the round of 32.
Meanwhile, Belgian Xavier Malisse doused 13th-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) and 16th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic dismissed Poland's Lukasz Kubot 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-1. Simon, a member of the ATP Player Council, drew some attention here on Wednesday when he said women should not earn the same prize money as the men at Grand Slam events.
In other action involving seeds, No. 17 Spaniard Fernando Verdasco held off Slovenian Grega Zemlja 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3; No. 19 Japanese Kei Nishikori beat Frenchman Florent Serra 6-3, 7-5, 6-2; France's Benoit Paire upset No. 22 Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-4; No. 27 German Philipp Kohlschreiber straight-setted Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-1, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1; and No. 28 Czech Radek Stepanek erased German Benjamin Becker 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Stepanek is rewarded with a third-round match against the reigning world No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon champ Djokovic on Friday.
Additionally, Goffin overcame American Jesse Levine 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3; American comeback kid Brian Baker whipped Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 6-0, 6-2, 6-4; Colombian Alejandro Falla outlasted Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5; Slovak Lukas Lacko edged out Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; and the former Wimbledon semifinalist Baghdatis got past Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 4-1 when the injured Bulgarian retired in the second set.
Canadian slugger Milos Raonic, seeded 21st here, was tied with American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (7-9), 3-3 when their bout was suspended because of insufficient light.
In addition to Djokovic, a third-seeded Federer will also see third-round action on Friday as the Swiss great will face 29th-seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
The former No. 1 Federer owns a men's-record 16 major titles, including six Wimbledon championships.