Down Goes Nadal

28 06 2012

This just doesn’t happen. Seriously.

In a match that can only be described as stupefying, 11-time Grand Slam winner and reigning French Open champion Rafael Nadal was taken down by No. 100 ranked Lukas Rosol 7-6 (9), 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round at Wimbledon.

Rosol came into this match with no credibility. The man from the Czech Republic had only won 18 career singles matches while Nadal had won 582. That’s all you need to know about where these two 26-year-old tennis players came from.

Even though this is obviously all about Nadal and an immense upset, Rosol looked deserving to receive his 19th career win. There are no striking “unforced errors” or “yet another Nadal injury” storylines to go along with Rosol’s biggest win of his career. He played his best game ever by having better serves, better footwork, better volleys and simply better tennis than the King of Clay.

No other set than the final 5th set made it clear who earned this win. Rosol played almost perfect tennis, including an absurd 99 miles an hour backhand winner and three staggering aces during the final game of the match.

His opponent even knew how well he played.

“In the fifth set, he played more than unbelievable,” Nadal said.

Yes, upsets happen in every type of sport out there. However, this simply has not happened to Men’s tennis’s Big 3 (Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic) during their era of dominance. In fact, this is the lowest-ranked player Nadal has ever fallen to in a Grand Slam and the earliest he has been ousted in the past seven years. Since tennis doesn’t spark much interest across the nation, this won’t get much discussion, but realize this: Nadal’s loss ranks right along with the biggest upsets of the year.

Not only will Nadal not get the chance to win his fourth back-to-back majors, but now the tournament has fallen into either Federer or Djokovic’s lap. Since Djokovic is seeded No. 1 and Federer No. 3, they will (inevitably) face off in the semifinals – not the Finals. The other side of the bracket, which had Nadal, now has the likes of Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mardy Fish and David Ferrer to possibly take advantage of the Spaniard’s early departure. However, these men have a combined zero Grand Slam championships. Even though Juan Del Potro and (now) Rosol also have a chance to make a deep run to face one of the Big 3, it won’t matter.

As has been proven countless times, this is the Big 3’s court. Actually, any major’s court is the Big 3’s court. Other than one odd U.S. Open championship victory in 2009 for Del Potro, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won every single Grand Slam since 2007. Every single one. They play tennis at a precise and efficient level unattainable by any other player in the world. Since Nadal decided to show his humanity this time around, he has cleared the path for Djokovic to continue his spectacular stretch of tennis that started right in London one year ago or for Federer to tack on yet another Grand Slam (his 17th to be exact) to his illustrious list of accomplishments.

Every superstar has a point in their career when they fail to reach expectations and disappoint all that put faith in their abilities. This is Nadal’s day. After one of the two players ranked right above and below him eventually win this tournament, we will all see a focused Rafa show up in America ready to win the U.S. Open.

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