Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 6/28/12
Nadal_action_3090

Well, the seemingly unthinkable has finally happened. One of the “Big 4″ lost in the second round at a Slam. It was Rafael Nadal, World #2, competing against World #100 Lukas Rosol. Rosol has a good serve, big groundstrokes, and not much else. He had never been consitently accurate before in any match he played. And certainly not at the level he showed against Rafa.

Rafa played well for most of the match. Rosol really just did very well to not drop his level all match. He hit big and was never fazed by Nadal’s retrieving. He really just hit Nadal off the court and there was nothing Nadal could do. It was a brilliant display of offensive tennis and accurate massive groundstrokes.

Nadal became frustrated through much of the match and did hit some uncharacteristic errors. He clearly was not playing at his top level, though some credit for that has to be given to Rosol, who frustrated Nadal all match by just hitting bigger shots than Rafa could deal with. Rosol played the match of his life and Nadal just didn’t have a response for it. It was certainly a great and exciting match, fittingly finished under the roof at Centre Court. Rosol found ways to break and rode his serve and tremendous groundstrokes off both wings to send Nadal home before the third round of a Slam for the first time since 2005.

Every match except Sam Querrey against Milos Raonic has been completed. Play was suspended at 1 set apiece, 3-3 in the third. The winner of that match will meet Marin Cilic in the third round. Regardless of who is in it, that should be a very good match.

Top Players Roundup:

Federer cruised again against Fabio Fognini. The talented but tempermental Italian never even put up a fight and Federer really just got a nice practice session out of this match. Djokovic, on the other hand, had quite a dogfight with tough American youngster Ryan Harrison. Djokovic saved all 7 break points he faced (six of them in one game) and managed to break Harrison once in each set for the straight-sets win. It was an impressive performance from Harrison, but he still has a ways to go before he can beat the very top players.

Andy Murray had a very tricky match agaisnt Ivo Karlovic. Murray lost one of the two tiebreakers but was never really in danger of losing the match. A match against an awkward player like Karlovic is one that any player is happy to get through, no matter what the scoreline. And Nadal, as mentioned above, fell to Lukas Rosol.

Who Looked Good:

1. Brian Baker- The American comeback “kid” just seems to get more and more impressive each time he gets on the court. He only gave up 6 games against hardened veteran Jarkko Niemenin and was really dominant throughout. He seems to be comfortable on grass and can hit great shots from all over the court. He had to come through the qualifiers here because he wasn’t given a Wild Card, but two quick matches means that he probably won’t be too fatigued however far he can get in this tournament. And with Alexandr Dolgopolov upset by Benoit Paire, Baker’s chances of reaching at least the fourth round look very high.

2. Marin Cilic- Lukasz Kubot is a tough opponent, but Cilic dismissed him with relative ease. Kubot reached the fourth round here last year and is tough on grass. But Cilic served very well, hitting 14 aces, and hit huge shots all over the court. He hit 34 winners to just 9 errors and played a very solid, strong match throughout.

3. Mikhail Youzhny- Youzhny had a tough first set of his first-round match against Donald Young. But since then, he has played very well. His serve has been very effective and he has been hitting good shots from everywhere on court. He has a winnable third-round match against the 8th-seeded Tipsarevic, who isn’t great on grass but who has played pretty well so far here at Wimbledon.

Who Looked Bad:

1. Ernests Gulbis- I think that one ord, and one word only, can descrive Gulbis’s career up to this point: Facepalm. That’s seriously what it is. He followed up the best match he’s played so far in his career with a loss to qualifier Jerzy Janowicz. Now, Janowicz has talent but has never played well on a big stage before. Gulbis did not play so poorly and the match wasn’t characterized by the mental erros which we almost expect to see from him at this point. So maybe he has turned a corner. But he played at a much, much higher level than this in the first round and a loss to Janowicz is a very disappointing result.

2. Alxandr Dolgopolov- First of all, I have to give all credit to Benoit Paire. He played what was probably the best match of his career. Still, a talented and high-ranked player like Dolgopolov should have done more. He should have tried to fix his play when his normal game couldn’t beat Paire. Instead, he started to seem disinterested an almost listless on court. It will be overshadowed by Paire’s great play, but it was also a disappointing showing from Dolgopolov.

3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga- Tsonga did not play badly. In fact, aside from the first set, he played a match at his normal level. But that first set was very troubling. Tsonga seemed nonchalant and disinterested. It was a terrible set of tennis from Tsonga. He got over it midway through the second set and played a good match from there, but he can’t afford to play at that low level for an hour against any better opponents.

Match of the Round:

There are a fair number of choices for this slot, and the real match of the round was undoubtedly Nadal against Rosol, but since I wrote about that in the opening of this article, I want to talk about Alejandro Falla against Nicolas Mahut here. Falla had just taken out John Isner in 5 sets and came out with a two set lead against Mahut. In a match that was suspended overnight due to darkness, Mahut came back and forced a fifth set. After the pair traded breaks in the fifth, Falla eventually came ahead to win it 7-5. It was a good match, full of good serving and strong grass play all around. Falla now has a great draw and a real chance to meet Federer in the quarterfinals. Th

What to Watch in Round 3:

First of all, Ferrer against Roddick looks like a great match. Back when Roddick was anywhere near his prime, this would be a blowout on grass. But now that Roddick refuses to play aggressive tennis and won’t go after the forehand, this should be a tight match. Hopefully it will force Roddick to bring his attacking play and flat forehand back out to compete in this match. And Brian Baker against Benoit Paire looks like a match between two players who are playing some of their best tennis right now. No one really knows Baker’s top level because we haven’t actually ever had a chance to see him play on tour, but I feel like he is just going to get better and better with each match and that this tournament will be a great barometer for what he can do in the future.

Also in this bottom half of the draw, check out Kei Nishikori against Juan Martin Del Potro. Nishikori has very quietly been very effective so far this tournament. Del Potro has had some very odd moments of struggle so far this tournament, and this should be a tight and good match. Mardy Fish against David Goffin should also be interesting. Goffin has really impressed in the last month and Fish will be tired after months without match play and having to survive a 4-hour-long 5-setter against James Ward this past round.

In the top half of the draw, Nicolas Almagro against Richard Gasquet is a match that would usually draw our attention. Unfortunately, Almagro has not been playing well at all this tournament. Hopefully he can pick his level back up and make this match close, but I’m not optimistic about it. Still, this is a battle between the best two single-handed backhands in the game right now and is worth checking out. Also on this side, Janko Tipsarevic against Mikhail Youzhny has quite a bit of potential, as Youzhny has looked very good so far this tournament.

For up-to-the-second thoughts and comments, follow on Twitter at twitter.com/yesh222TSHQ


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