Sunday 24 September 2017

Tennis: Nadal crashes out of Wimbledon after Rosol produces stunning display

Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal

Ian Chadband

Rafael Nadal crashed out of Wimbledon last night after being on the receiving end of an unexpected and utterly ferocious barrage of quality from unsung tour journeyman Lukas Rosol.

The No 2 seed was on the wrong end of one of SW19's great upsets as Rosol beat him in a fifth set decider under the Centre Court roof in a compelling second-round clash.

At 8.45pm with the skies darkening, Nadal levelled the match by winning the fourth set and the chair umpire decided the only way it could be completed as if the roof was shut.

The announcement was made to the cheers of the crowd but Nadal, having finally gained some momentum after being largely on the defensive in the face of a fantastic performance from the world No 100, did not look at all happy.

The sheer power and uninhibited ball striking of the 6ft 5in surprise package was stunning from the Wimbledon debutant who only played his first Tour-level grass tournament at Queen's a fortnight ago, where he reached the third round.

All the signs pointed then to a man who has never won a Tour title ending up as a mere sparring partner for Nadal, but instead his exceptional performance had the former champ rocking on his heels.

In truth, Rosol had looked like a tower of trouble from the moment he launched an unstoppable 127mph ace on the second point of the match.

The sheer power of his hitting was evident for the first quarter of an hour but once he started struggling behind his second service and hooked a forehand wide in the fifth game to gift Nadal the break, it seemed odds-on the former champ would settle and he had to battle hard to win the set 7-6.

However, as Rosol won the second set 6-4, Nadal was in the unaccustomed position of being bullied. And he did not like it. He complained to the umpire about Rosol's dancing on the baseline as he was waiting to receive serve. Yet the Czech did not appear to be doing anything wrong.

There was no love lost between them as they bumped into each other at one changeover but Rosol wasn't intimidated as he won the third set before Nadal levelled and the roof was closed.

Under the roof, Rosol was stunning as he broke Nadal and didn't lose a point in his final two service games to win 6-4 in the fifth.

Nadal's exit opens the door for Andy Murray who was due to meet the Spaniard in the semi-finals until last night's shock. Murray overcame Ivo Karlovic yesterday, however the Croatian called Wimbledon's credibility into question and accused line judges of bias after he was foot-faulted "11 times" in his 7-5 6-7 6-2 7-6 defeat.

Irish Independent

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