Rafael Nadal stunned by 100th-ranked Rosol at Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, England -- All Lukas Rosol wanted was to play respectably. "So I don't lose 3-0,'' he said. He played spectacularly. He played Rafael Nadal right out of Wimbledon in an upset of enormous proportions.
Rosol, 26, is ranked 100th in the world. Nadal, 26, an 11-time Grand Slam winner, is No. 2 and was trying for his third Wimbledon title. But Rosol, who never even had played Wimbledon until Tuesday, losing in the first round of qualifying in each of the previous five years, stunned Nadal -- and all tennis -- with a 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win Tjursday night.
"I don't know what to say,'' Rosol told the BBC after he tumbled to the grass in joy. Nadal knew exactly what to say. "I'm very disappointed, [but] it's not a tragedy,'' he said. "It's only a tennis match.''
For Rosol, the Czech who hit every serve, forehand and backhand as hard as possible, it was the match of his life. He had 22 aces, the last one on the final point.
Said Tim Henman, who four times reached the Wimbledon semifinals and now does commentary for the BBC, "I think it was a freak performance. I don't think it mattered who was on the other side of the net.''
Rosol's career record before the match was 19-32, as contrasted to the 583-121 of Nadal, who 21/2 weeks ago won the French Open for the seventh time and had reached the previous five Grand Slam finals.
"When an opponent plays like he wanted to play in the fifth,'' Nadal said of Rosol, "you are in his hands.''
On a beautiful late summer afternoon, the Centre Court match began under blue skies, but as evening arrived, the roof was closed and the lights turned on, delaying the fifth set for 43 minutes. The break seemed to rattle the normally unflappable Nadal, who in the third set bumped Rosol during a changeover.
"He wanted to take my concentration,'' Rosol said. "That's OK, I knew he would try something, but I was concentrating.''
Rosol never had played a professional match on grass until the AEGON Championships at Queen's Club this month. "It is a miracle for me,'' he said of the win. "I never expected this.''
No one did, especially Nadal, who departed a Grand Slam event the earliest since losing to Gilles Muller here in 2005. He had never lost to a lower-ranked player in a Grand Slam event.
"It means so much to me,'' said Rosol, whose best finish in any Slam was the third round of the 2011 French Open.
"Nadal is only human,'' Rosol said. "He can play good and some matches, and he can be in not so good shape. That was today. That was my best match ever. Congratulations to Rafa, but I think I was better today.''
Nadal gave a funny look when told of the comment.
"That's too simple,'' Nadal said. "In the fifth, yes. 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.''