WIMBLEDON – Who could have predicted that the Wimbledon Centre Court match of the day was going to be a little known player (ranked No. 100) from the Czech Republic against World No. 2 Rafael Nadal?
Lukas Rosol not only sensationally, but confidently and competently dispatched Nadal 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
From the start, Rosol was serving big and heavy, actually making Nadal look slow.
It was clear from the start this guy was not going to go down timidly, and given that Tomaz Bellucci had taken four games of Nadal in his first round match, there was an expectation that he might start slow.
But it is fair to say that nobody quite expected the outcome.
Nadal had to dig very deep to finally close out the first set tiebreak 9-7.
Rosol could have easily just dropped his head and followed the script meekly, but was too busy making Nadal look, at times, ordinary.
Nadal was clearly rattled at the end of the second set, and there were angry glances both to his team and across the net at times.
It really was not until the fourth set that Nadal seemed to be back to his pumped up self, and that certainly seemed to be when he was most energized.
At the end of what has been a beautiful day in Wimbledon, the roof was to be deployed for the fifth set.
Nadal did not seem to happy, and with good reason as momentum was with him, and a small break to recoup was just what Rosol needed.
From the start, he broke Nadal and stayed that crucial break ahead.
Prior to this match Rosol had never made it past the first round.
But this year he attributed his success to much more grass-court work, playing Queens and Eastbourne instead of just the Wimbledon Qualifying rounds.
But what stood out in his performance was his utter fearlessness, against the World No. 2, and on one of the most prestigious courts in the tennis world.
Rosol said: â€œI closed it inside.
“I just don’t want to show him what is in me.”
Perhaps his nerves showed in the fourth set, but certainly not in the decider.
He continued: “Before the last game I was a little bit, you know, like inside I’m not sure if I will be shaking or not because was first time against Rafa and first time also in Wimbledon Centre Court.”
“You never know what to expect. So was not easy, and I survive.”
But what of Nadal?
The last time Nadal went out in the second round of a Grand Slam was again in Wimbledon, in 2005, beaten by Gilles Muller.
The last No. 2 seed to lose in the second round at Wimbledon was Marat Safin in 2002, who fell to Olivier Rochus.
Certainly, at a time when he had the momentum, the decision to close the roof was probably not what he needed to hear.
Nadal said: “For sure wasn’t the best one for me.
But that’s what it is and accept.”
He continued: “I was surprised because takes 30 to 45 minutes.”
He acknowledged that despite winning the first set tiebreaker, his performance had been below par in the first three sets.
He said: “I played bad and my return wasn’t work very well.
“I think my served worked well, but I played with little bit less energy than other times.”
Although the match was not without moments of needleling, a bit of a changeover incident, words with umpires and unhappiness with the decision to bring on the roof.
But Nadal conceded that on his day, Rosol had done the job.
“The thing is today he played great.Â He played special.”
Rosol will now go on to face Phillip Kohlschrieber in the third round.
Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.