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Fri Apr 25 10:21:02 SAST 2014

Rosol rises from obscurity after slaying Nadal

Reuters | 29 June, 2012 08:030 Comments
The Championships - Wimbledon 2012: Day Four
Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic reacts after winning his Gentlemen's Singles second round match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2012 in London, England
Image by: Clive Rose / Getty Images

Lukas Rosol is so far down the tennis pecking order, he does not feature in the men’s ATP guide, has a skeleton profile on Wikipedia and was even a total nobody in tennis circles.

He may as well have landed from Mars as far as the Centre Court crowd were concerned but after Thursday it is unlikely Rafa Nadal or any other sports fan will forget the Czech’s name.

  Playing a brand of fearless and brash tennis many journeyman dream of but only the brave produce, Wimbledon debutant Rosol caused one of the biggest ever upsets seen on a tennis stage when he jettisoned Nadal in the second round with a heart-pumping 6-7 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory.

  It left the Spaniard shell-shocked, the crowd stunned and Rosol blinking in disbelief as he added his name to a select band of players who have dared to bring the mighty down to their knees.

  Peter Doohan conquered Boris Becker in the second round in 1987, George Bastl tamed Pete Sampras at the same stage in 2002 and Ivo Karlovic felled defending champion Hewitt Lleyton on the opening day in 2003 but Rosol’s heroics surpassed them all as Nadal has been an omnipresent force in the final three days of a grand slam.

  The 11-times grand slam champion featured in the last five grand slam finals, made it to the final Sunday at Wimbledon in his last five appearances and along with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, has formed an exclusive club with the trio winning 28 of the last 29 majors between them.

  It was against those daunting statistics that Rosol pulled off the unthinkable.

  “Maybe it’s once in lifetime you can play like this against Rafael Nadal on Centre Court and you can win against him. You know, it’s not easy. I never expected it can happen, something like this.

  “I still can’t believe it. It’s like dream for me.

(This is) like some B (club) team in Czech Republic beating Real Madrid in soccer.”

  It is no wonder Rosol compared himself to a ‘B club team’ as he usually inhabits a different stratosphere from the one Nadal resides in.

  Whereas the world number two Spaniard has won 50 trophies and banked more than $50 million in prize money, the 100th ranked Rosol’s tally stands at zero titles and $879777.

  It was no wonder the Czech’s main goal for Thursday’s showdown on the most famous tennis stage was to make sure he “didn’t lose 6-0 6-1 6-1”.

  From the moment he started swinging his racket, there was no danger of that.

  He did not give a hoot about his opponent’s standing in the sport and showered Nadal’s half of the court with audacious winners that riled and rattled the Spaniard.

  Rosol kept his wits about him during a tense first set, irked Nadal in the second, set off alarm bells in the Spaniard in the third, bided his time in the fourth as dusk fell before producing fireworks under a closed roof in the fifth.

  A nerveless Rosol capped it off by banging down an ace, a blazing forehand winner, an ace and yet another howitzer to finish off Nadal and complete a victory that even he had not thought possible.

  As Rosol sunk to his knees in his moment of glory, Nadal was left to digest his worst showing at one of the four majors for seven years.

  “I am very, very disappointed. I not very happy. That’s painful, because always is tough to lose,” Nadal told reporters.

  “You play against an inspired opponent and I am out. That’s all. Is not a tragedy. Is only a tennis match.”

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