To quote the late Jack Buck, "I don't believe what I just saw."
World No. 100 Lukas Rosol stunned two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in one of the biggest upsets in the 135-year history of the tournament. Nadal had made the finals in his last five Wimbledon appearances and had played in the last four Grand Slam finals overall. He was 17 days removed from winning the French Open.
The 26-year-old Czech is playing in his first Wimbledon. He was 0-5 in qualifying matches at the All England Club and had never won a single ATP match on grass courts since joining the tour in 2005. He had 19 wins in his career. Nadal had 41 this year. But behind a powerful serve and fearless returns, Rosol took Nadal deep into a first-set tiebreaker, then refused to fold after dropping it 11-9, winning the next two sets after early breaks.
The players exchanged a testy moment in the third set. A frustrated Nadal complained to the chair umpire about Rosol's antics before his serve. The Czech was dancing on the baseline and making a heavy breathing noise while Nadal prepared to hit. When Nadal's complaints were ignored, he sulked, then appeared to deliberately brush into Rosol on a changeover.
Nadal corrected course in the fourth set and appeared on his way to cruising to a fifth-set win when Wimbledon officials made the sure-to-be controversial decision to close the roof at Centre Court to avoid the impending nightfall. There was still at least 35 minutes left of daylight when the choice to close the roof was made.
After a 40-minute delay, the players returned and Rosol appeared to have regained his mojo. He broke in the first game and wasn't challenged on his serve the rest of the set. He hit 20 winners in the fifth and won the final game at love. When he hit an ace to cap the upset, Rosol fell to his knees.
The loss was instantly compared to some of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history. Pete Sampras' loss to George Bastl in 2002 is considered the standard bearer, but that came at the end of the American's great career. Nadal is in his prime. Now he's out of a Grand Slam earlier than he has been since 2005.
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