Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis, Nick Kyrgios…and Dustin Brown. All ranked out of the top 100 when they defeated Rafael Nadal at the All England Club.
That’s right. The 14-time Slam winner has yet again perished in the first week of Wimbledon, for the third time in the last four years. What has been worrying is his deteriorating level of strength and play.
Dustin Brown, a German who grew up in Jamaica and drove across Europe in a camper van to keep his career going, blew away Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round to pull off the biggest upset so far in the first week of the men’s draw.
But can it really be called an upset anymore? Nadal hasn’t been comfortable on grass since 2011, and he even lost to Brown at Halle in 2014. But then again, Brown has lost in the first round of his last four Grand Slams in a row. However, the German looked like he genuinely craved to play on Center Court; he savoured the big stage and played a game that backed his erratic temperament. He played the most gorgeous drop volleys, drop shots and power serves, and came to the net 99 times, out of which he won 71 of those points. Those are statistics that win you tournaments.
Nadal isn’t the first ex-Wimbledon Champion that Brown has beaten on the big stage. He defeated Hewitt back in 2013 too, and has a big-serving game that suits the surface. He faltered a couple of times in the final set, missing two match points on Nadal’s serve, but managed to serve it out without any hiccups. There was no comeback for Nadal, who depended far more on his opponent’s ability to choke on big points than his own ability to snatch those points. Brown barely choked, and played like he had nothing to lose. Because honestly, when you play a 2-time Wimbledon Champion and are ranked out of the top 100, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Luckily for Brown, those guns fired and how.
Except for Nick Kyrgios, none of the players who have defeated Nadal early at Wimbledon have gone on to capitalize on their overnight fame. Kyrgios was ranked 144, and is now ranked in the top 30. But Rosol has come and gone, Darcis has barely made an appearance after that, and Brown will probably lose in the next round and nobody will notice except Nadal fans. That’s how the cookie crumbles in these big tournaments. The guys who upset Nadal, Federer and Murray rarely go on to actually win the Slams.
Nadal’s exit has only made Murray’s path to the last 4 easier. And Nadal could fall further in the rankings, because he reached the 4th round last year. 2015 could go down as the year it all ended for the Spaniard.
He is 29, and there is no coming back from this season.