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Rafael Nadal upset by No. 100-ranked player at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England — Rafael Nadal bumped into his unknown, unheralded opponent as they headed to a break between games. Perhaps it was incidental contact.

At the previous changeover, Nadal stood and barked at the chair umpire, complaining about being distracted by 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol while serving. Later, Nadal shook his head and frowned when a Wimbledon official explained that, with light fading and the second-round match heading to a fifth set, they'd need a 45-minute break to close the retractable roof and turn on the lights at Centre Court.

But of all the things that rattled Nadal on Thursday, the most significant was Rosol's gutsy game — his 22 aces, violent groundstrokes and shot-punctuating stare downs. Put it together and Rosol, making his debut at the All England Club, overpowered 11-time Grand Slam champion Nadal 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, one of the most astonishing results in tennis history.

"That's (what) happens when you play against a player who is able to hit the ball very hard, hit the ball without thinking and feeling the pressure," Nadal, seeded second, said. "At the end, when the opponent wants to play like he wanted to play in the fifth (set), you are in his hands, no? Everything was going right for him."

It's the first time since 2005 Nadal lost in the second round at any major (that also was in the second round at Wimbledon). It also ends two streaks for the Spaniard: He reached the final at the previous five Grand Slams, and he reached the final the last five times he entered Wimbledon, winning in 2008 and 2010.

The last time a No. 2 men's seed lost this early in a Grand Slam was at the 2005 French Open, when Andy Roddick went down.

"He played a good match," Rosol said of Nadal, "but I think I was better (Thursday)."

Still, Rosol considered it stunning he was able to stay close, much less win. Asked what his expectations had been, Rosol said: "Just to play three good sets, you know. Just don't lose 6-0, 6-1, 6-1."

"I'm not just surprised; it's like a miracle for me," he said. "I never expected something like this."

They're both 26, yet Nadal entered the day with 583 career match wins and Rosol 19. Nadal owns 50 titles, Rosol zero. In 178 prior Grand Slam matches, Nadal never had lost to a foe ranked 70th or worse. In five previous visits to Wimbledon, Rosol had lost every time in the first round of qualifying — not even the main event. This is only the Czech player's second career tour-level event on grass; the first was two weeks ago.

Rosol thought Nadal was trying to throw him off in the third set with a bit of gamesmanship. First, after Rosol broke to go ahead 2-1, Nadal complained to the chair umpire about something his foe was doing to bother him. "So do you think that's fair?" Nadal asked. "Let me know."

Nadal wouldn't say later what he was complaining about, saying he didn't want to appear to be making excuses for his loss. ESPN analyst John McEnroe said Nadal complained that Rosol was making a "weird breathing noise."

At the following changeover, they crossed paths on the way to their seats, and Nadal offered a body-check.

"He wanted to take my concentration," Rosol said. "That's okay. I knew he would try something, but I was concentrating."

Nothing fazed Rosol, especially down the stretch.

That one result rendered all the others on Day 4 of Wimbledon relatively meaningless. For the record: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams reached the third round, as did Roddick and Mardy Fish.

.fast facts

Who is Lukas Rosol?

Age: 26

Birthplace: Brno, Czech Republic

Ranking: 100

Really? Record was 18-32 entering Thursday. … Before Thursday, had three wins in Grand Slam matches, all at French Open. … Lost in first round of qualifying at Wimbledon each of previous five years. … Lowest-ranked player to beat Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam. … Reaching third round at Wimbledon equals best Slam performance. Reached third round as qualifier at 2011 French; beat No. 8 Jurgen Melzer in second round there for only previous win over top-10 player. … In his second tour-level grass tourney.

Rafael Nadal upset by No. 100-ranked player at Wimbledon 06/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:31pm]
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