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Why Rafael Nadal lost so early at Wimbledon

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Absolutely true.

Actually, seven-time French Open champion Nadal came oh-so-close to a straight-set exit. He barely avoided losing the opener, forced to erase three set points before taking it in the tiebreaker when Rosol plopped a gimme forehand into the net.

Rosol took the next two sets, pounding serves, returning well and swinging away from the baseline. It was an aggressive approach, as though Rosol wanted to out-muscle the ultimate on-court bully, right down to imitating the way Nadal sprints back to the baseline after changeovers.

Even Rosol considered it stunning he was able to stay close, much less win.

Asked afterward what his expectations had been, Rosol replied: "Just to play three good sets, you know. Just don't lose 6-0, 6-1, 6-1."

They're both 26 years old, 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 lost every time in the first round of qualifying — not even the main event. Qualifying. This is only the Czech player's second career tour-level event on grass; the first was two weeks ago.

He 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."

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. ... I knew that he will try something," said Rosol, who has a tribal tattoo covering his entire left calf, and wore green laces on one shoe, white laces on the other. "I was surprised that he can do it on the Centre Court, Wimbledon, you know. It's, like, something wrong."

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