Forget about Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. No number one return for Nadal as well, after losing before the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2005, losing to the world number 100, Lukas Rosol, in the second round of the 2012 Wimbledon tournament.
Is it the greatest upset in Wimbledon history? The greatest upset of all time? Might be, might be. Some like to point out that Lleyton Hewitt losing to Ivo Karlovic in 2003 might be, but Nadal is a better player than Hewitt, while Rosol doesn’t have that factor that Karlovic has with his frightening serves, especially on the Wimbledon grass. Nadal never loses in big tournaments so early, and to see him play so badly in the first two sets and then get smashed in the fifth set was incredible.
It was probably the break to operate the roof and cover the court that save Rosol, a 26 year old Czech who has never made it further than a third round in a Grand Slam tournament, his highest ranking thus far being number 65, achieved one year ago. This year is the first time he’s made it out of the qualifiers in Wimbledon.
But for now, as even Rosol seems hard to believe and explain how and why he’s beaten Nadal, the focus goes to the two time champion and the man who was probably the favorite to win the tournament after a fantastic clay season, culminating in an impressive Roland Garros final against Novak Djokovic. Now Djokovic – Federer looks like the real final of the tournament, while Andy Murray gets a great boost, knowing he’s the favorite in his half of the draw to reach the Wimbledon final for the first time in his career.
Explaining? Nadal thinks it’s fatigue, and he simply needs a rest. He said he played badly in the first two sets, but credited Rosol for his brilliant play in the fifth set, dominating the match with his blasting forehand that just wouldn’t miss. Nadal couldn’t gain a upper hand in any of the rallies, having to stay on the defensive side for most of the time. He did look tired, beaten, even before the final point. Something reminiscent of his last loss to Djokovic in Australia, which completely wore him out.
Nadal was frustrated, and showed it by exchanging words with the referee and bumping into Rosol, on purpose, as the two were going to their chairs during the third set. Whether it shook Rosol up or not, it didn’t matter in the end. Rosol eased up in the fourth set, looking like he’s saving strength for the final set. Then came the halt in play, the roof came on, and Nadal was never the same.
Nadal looked bad in Halle too. Nadal didn’t look very good against Bellucci in the first round. Maybe it was fatigue, which is understandable, but not necessarily acceptable from a player who’s always been known for his stamina and ability to survive long, grueling matches, nearly always coming up with his hand on top. Sometimes, on grass, when you’re too defensive and too tired, all the hustle in the world won’t do you any good.
Now it’s back to some rest, which is something Nadal said he was going to do after losing in Halle. After Wimbledon and Lukas Rosol, I guess Nadal needs more rest than ever before returning to the Hard Courts and eventually, the US Open.