As the matches carry on at the All England Club, one face will be noticeably absent for the remainder of Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal was the victim of an historic upset, making an early exit on Thursday. To be honest, I thought Andy Roddick would be knocked out before Nadal, but tennis has become just about as unpredictable as baseball at this point. The men’s singles tourney will now proceed without the No. 2 seed.
As I was working Tuesday, I made sure to keep tabs on all of the Wimbledon goings-on. When I saw Nadal was trailing Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci in the first set by four games, I was a little worried about Rafa. I had no doubt that he would fight his way back and win the match. However, I had a feeling that if he was struggling early against an unseeded opponent, the rest of the tournament was likely to be an uphill battle.
Boy, was I right. Nadal didn’t even make it past the second round, losing to Czech Lukas Rosol Thursday. Rosol, who is ranked No. 100 in the world, defeated the two-time Wimbledon champion in five sets, 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. What’s more impressive, however, is that the win over Nadal was only Rosol’s second Wimbledon victory of his career. Perhaps BBC commentator Tim Henman was right; maybe Rosol’s victory was a fluke. Regardless, I don’t think he will even care if he loses in straight sets to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round. The fact that Rosol was able to come into Wimbledon and knock off someone of Rafa’s caliber is a memory he will have forever … and one he will likely be telling his grandchildren about.
There was fear of another upset Friday. Six-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer won in five sets against France’s Julien Benneteau after falling behind early on and causing widespread panic in the tennis world. In the first two rounds of the tournament, Federer made short work of Spain’s Albert Ramos and Italian Fabio Fognini, beating each in three sets. Ramos could only muster three points in the first round match against Federer, who finished him off in an astounding 79 minutes. And Federer was almost faultless in his victory over Fognini, which made Friday’s match all the more surprising.
Losing the first two sets to the 29th-ranked Benneteau, Federer made a comeback in the third set. For the first time in the 2012 tournament, Federer played a fourth set … and eked out the second tie-breaker of the match to force a fifth. Fortunately for Federer, he was able to hold off Benneteau and complete the come-from behind 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 victory. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of an upset, no matter the sport, and Federer’s near elimination was exciting, to say the least. Benneteau definitely gave him a run for his money. Even with Federer and top-seeded Novak Djokovic still in the hunt for the silver gilt cup, it’s evident that anything can and likely will happen before we get to the semi-finals.