WIMBLEDON, England – Chasing a drop shot in the second set, Rafael Nadal stumbled and tumbled into the net as his racket went flying to the sideline.
It just wasn’t his day. Nadal rose slowly to cheers from the Wimbledon crowd but found himself off balance the rest of the way and made his earliest Grand Slam exit since 2005.
Nadal was overpowered in the second round Thursday by Lukas Rosol, a Czech ranked No. 100, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
The 26-year-old Rosol earned the biggest win of his career playing in Wimbledon’s main draw for the first time. He lost each of the past five years in the first round of qualifying.
As the match stretched beyond dusk, the conclusion came with the retractable roof closed for the final set on Centre Court. The upset on tennis’ biggest stage was no fluke: Rosol served brilliantly and repeatedly stepped instead the baseline to hit aggressive groundstrokes, while Nadal found himself pinned deep and on the defensive.
Among those shocked by the result was Rosol.
“I’m not just surprised. It’s like a miracle for me,” he said. “I never expected something like this.”
Rosol exhaled before hitting his final shot, which was his 22nd ace. He fell to his knees, arms up, then collapsed face down on the famous grass. He then rose and shook hands at the net with a frowning Nadal.