Rafael Nadal will be the headline of Day 4, which may be exactly what Roger Federer wants. Nadal’s loss will be all anyone talks about today, but Federer breezed past Sam Querrey and his big serve without any real trouble. Federer was never broken and only faced two break points in the whole match. The Swiss Maestro is playing the way we are used to seeing from him on grass and he probably won’t face a real challenge until Gael Monfils or Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinal. Maybe we should be talking about Federer a little more here.
Who Looked Good
Dustin Brown (defeated Nadal 75 36 64 64): Wow. That’s really all that can be said about this performance. It wasn’t the grass-court clinic that Lukas Rosol put on years ago, but it was still a darned impressive display of attacking grass court tennis. There is plenty to point out where Nadal could have played better, but this was straight-up about “Dreddy” bringing A+ tennis.
Vasek Pospisil (defeated 63 64 16 63): There was no classic Fognini meltdown here. There was just Vasek Pospisil playing strong tennis. The Canadian attacked when able and defended Fognini well, leading to an all-around strong Wimbledon performance. Ferrer’s withdrawal and Nadal’s upset means that this are of the draw is wide open and Pospisil is probably currently sitting as a favorite for reaching the quarterfinal from that section.
Tomas Berdych (defeated Nicolas Mahut 61 64 64): Mahut is a good grass player. Many expected this match to be very close. But the former Wimbledon finalist showed no mercy, breaking Mahut early and often. And while the scoreline makes it seems as if the last two sets were closer, Berdych dominated most of the games, winning over 40% of points on the Mahut serve in each of those sets.
Who Looked Bad
Rafael Nadal: Maybe this is an unfair critique. Nadal certainly didn’t play badly. But, relative to expectations, Nadal underperformed. The vintage Nadal of 2006-8 would have had trouble with this match but found a way to push through it. He’s still nearly unbeatable on clay and a tough out anywhere, but maybe it’s time to realize that–at least on the Wimbledon grass–expecting the vintage Nadal to show up again might be a pipe dream.
Benoit Paire (lost to Bautista-Agut 62 64 36 36 36): Paire did not play badly. In fact, he played very well for the first two sets. Then he collapsed. He seemed to fall and possibly turn an ankle, he definitely destroyed a chair, and overall just dropped his high level after the second set. Paire showed us flashes of what he’s capable of and showed us the entirety of his potential to play poorly.
Feliciano Lopez (lost to Basilashvili 57 63 36 62 46): Feliciano Lopez is an excellent grass player. He has a huge serve, a great follow-up, and is adept at net. Indeed, Wimbledon has consistently been the best Slam of his career. And, no offense to Basilashvili, but there is no reason Lopez should have lost this match. Lopez actually won more points in this match, but barely taking half of the points in which he approached the net is the stat that will go down as having cost him this match.
Match of the Day
It didn’t go five sets, but there really only is one choice for this spot. Dustin Brown kept the crowd and fans worldwide in suspense for four full sets. Rafael Nadal tried to keep him in check but just couldn’t find his elite-level game. Brown delivered a masterful serving performance that Nadal never really had an answer to. Highlights of this match and analysis of it will be playing on newsreels worldwide for the next day. It may not have been the best quality nor did it quite have the tenseness of Karlovic and Dolgopolov playing until 13-11 in the fifth set, but this match takes the day. No question.
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