Nadal knocked out
Former Wimbledon champ beaten in second round by qualifier from Germany
Two-time champion Rafael Nadal is making another early exit from Wimbledon, after losing in the second round to a 102nd-ranked qualifier who played the match of his life.
Dustin Brown, a German of Jamaican heritage with a clever touch, go-for-broke attitude and throwback serve-and-volley game, beat Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 64 on Centre Court on Thursday in by far the biggest surprise of the tournament so far.
Brown, a 30-year-old journeyman who had never beaten a seeded player at a Grand Slam, kept Nadal off balance all match with a mix of drop-volleys, big serves, reflex shots and quickfire backhand serve returns.
It's the first time Nadal has lost to a qualifier at a Grand Slam, and the fourth year in a row he has lost in the early rounds at Wimbledon to a player ranked 100th or lower.
Nadal won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010 but has barely been a factor since losing in the 2011 final. He fell in the second round to No. 100 Lukas Rosol in 2012, first round to 135th-ranked Steve Darcis in 2013 and fourth round to No. 144 Nick Kyrgios last year.
“Obviously today is a bad moment for me,” Nadal said. “I need to accept. This kind of things, they happen. ... It's a sad moment for me, but life continues. My career too. I have to keep going, working more than ever.”
Brown, who was born in Germany to a Jamaican father and German mother, moved to Jamaica at the age of 12. He returned to Europe in 2004 and travelled around the continent in a camper to play tourna- ments. Brown switched nationality from Jamaican to German in 2010.
Brown had played Nadal once before, beating the Spaniard 6-4, 6-1 on grass in Halle, Germany, last year. But few people gave him much of a chance against the 14-time Grand Slam winner on the greatest stage in tennis.
“I'm playing the first time on Centre Court,” Brown said. “It was awkward actually, I thought I was going to freak out a little bit.”
Brown, who had to get through three rounds of qualifying just to make into the main draw, gave Nadal fits with his serve-and-volley tactics - something rarely seen any more.
“With my game, it makes him not play his game at all,” Brown said.
Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a ball to Dustin Brown of Germany, during their singles match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday.