Not since 2005 has Rafael Nadal been knocked out of a Grand Slam tournament in the 2nd round. The 11-time major winner lost in five sets, 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 to world number 100 Lukas Rosol.
Credit to Nadal. He lost with dignity and there were no excuses. “You win, you lose. The last four months were probably the best of my career (referring to the Clay court season culminating in his record-breaking 7th French Open success). I just played an inspired opponent.” Lukas Rosol, a big-hitter from the Czech Republic, could do no wrong against the world number two.
The fans shock, all of sudden, turned into anticipation as Nadal was due to meet Britain’s Andy Murray in the semi-finals had both players ventured that far. Nadal has been a constant thorn in Murray’s progression as the Spaniard has beaten the Scot more times than any other professional tennis player. There have been 18 meetings between the two with Nadal being victorious on 13 occasions, compared to Murray’s five.
Regular dwellers on ‘Mount Murray’ are now anticipating Murray to, at least, make the final, with Novak Djokovic likely to be exchanging baseline rallies over the other side of the net. The pressure scale has definitely increased a notch and whether or not this will play in Murray’s favour remains to be seen. Murray will be feeling the expectations of a nation that is crying out for a British Wimbledon winner. To put things into context, Fred Perry was the last Briton to win Wimbledon and that was before the second World War – 1936.
Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis stands in Murray’s way next. The former top 10 player beat Murray at Wimbledon in 2006 when the Cypriot had his finest season in tennis. Although few would predict anything other than a Murray win, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the levels of expectation.