There’s nothing new about Rafael Nadal suffering an early exit at Wimbledon, this year to 34-year old Gilles Muller. Since losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 Wimbledon final, Nadal has failed to make it to the tournament’s quarterfinal, as it seems his current style and capabilities simply aren’t enough to win against lower ranked opponents on grass.
2003: Recently turned 17, Nadal made it to the third round at his first go. He beat Mario Ancic and Lee Childs before losing to #12 seed, Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in straight sets.
2005: After missing out on the 2004 Wimbledon, Nadal arrived at the All England Club as a French Open champion, with much higher expectations. He didn’t last past the second round, losing to Gilles Muller (yeah, the same guy from yesterday) in four sets, making a surprisingly early exit as a #4 seed.
2012: A long run of success that included five finals and two titles ended in 2012 for Nadal on the Wimbledon grass (he didn’t play in 2009), losing in the second round despite heading in as the number 2 seed. Nadal famously lost to Lukas Rosol in a thrilling five-setter.
2013: Nadal went into the tournament as the #5 seed, but it didn’t help him as he crashed out after the first match, a first for him at Wimbledon and of only two times he has played in a Grand Slam and lost in the first round. Nadal was ousted by Steve Darcis of Belgium, losing in straight sets.
2014: The #2 seed heading into the tournament, Nadal beat three players before going home. He was unconvincing in his three victories, including one over Rosol, needing 4 sets in each one. In the fourth round, he clashed with wild card Nick Kyrgios, losing to the Australian (now a top 20 player) in 4 sets.
2015: A #10 seed heading into the match, Nadal lost to Germany’s Dustin Brown, who made it into the tournament through the qualifying matches. Brown beat Nadal in four sets, a year after beating him at Halle, also on grass.
2017: After missing the 2016 tournament, Nadal entered the tournament as the #4 seed, fresh off his 10th title at the Roland Garros and his first major title since 2014. Nadal looked good in his first three matches, not dropping a set before his match against Muller. The Luxembourg lefty gave him a lot of trouble and already led by two sets in their fourth round clash before Nadal stormed back, forcing a 5th set tie-break which under Wimbledon rules means a very long match. Muller eventually got the upper hand, winning 15-13 in the final set, and denying Nadal his chance to play in the QF at Wimbledon for the first time since 2011.