Rafael Nadal’s nightmare Wimbledon run

Nadal Wimbledon vs Darcis

Rafael Nadal is a 19-time Grand Slam champion, including a two-time Wimbledon winner but between 2012 and 2015 he suffered a series of embarrassing defeats at the All England Club.

Lukas Rosol beat Rafael Nadal 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 – Wimbledon 2012 second round

Nadal came into this year’s Wimbledon as the second seed and on a run of 11 consecutive major quarter-finals.

His recent record on the grass had been almost flawless with five final appearances in the last five years he had competed, with victories in 2008 and 2010. 

In contrast Rosol was ranked number 100 and this marked his debut Wimbledon having lost in the first round of qualifying on his five previous attempts. 

The Czech had yet to reach the third round of a slam but had achieved a career high ranking of 65 the year before. 

Nadal had a comfortable first round victory over Thomaz Bellucci while Rosol gained his maiden win at the grass court slam over Ivan Dodig. 

The Spaniard, as expected, claimed the opening set but was made to work, sealing it 11-9 in a tie-break.

Rosol continued to inflict his power game on Nadal and levelled the match, 6-4 in the second set and this style of play enabled him to take a two sets to one lead. 

However, perhaps the enormity of the situation got to the underdog and Nadal broke twice to force a decider.

By now, light was fading and there was a 43 minute break to close the Centre Court roof.

Rosol was undeterred on the resumption, immediately breaking Nadal and stood on the brink of a famous win, serving at 5-4.

Usually in this situation there are understandable nerves but the Czech made a mockery of this with a ridiculous display of serving.

His last game points won are as follows: ace, forehand winner, ace, ace.  

This marked the first time Nadal had lost before the third round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2005. 

Rosol met 27th seed Phillip Kohlschreiber in the third round but it was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show as he fell to a straight sets defeat.

Steve Darcis beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 – Wimbledon 2013 first round

Nadal returned to SW19 the following year having not played a competitive grass court match since his shock loss the previous year. 

He had, however, claimed a seventh French Open crown in the only Grand Slam he had played since Wimbledon the previous year. 

Steve Darcis was ranked even lower than Rosol, at 135 with his best Grand Slam result seeing him reach the third round at the 2011 French Open.

Nadal had obvious struggles on the different surface with Darcis claiming the opening set. 

He saved four set points in a second set tie-break but squandered one of his one as the Belgian claimed a two sets lead. 

Darcis broke the Spaniard in the opening game of the third set before holding to seal a famous victory.

It was the first time Nadal had lost in the first round of a slam and he became the first reigning Roland Garros champion to lose in the first round of Wimbledon since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997.

Darcis however, pulled out of his second round match citing a shoulder injury. 

Nick Kyrgios beats Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 – Wimbledon 2014 fourth round

Nadal had bounced back from his last shock Wimbledon defeat by winning the US Open and French Open, either side of reaching the Australian Open and was the world No.1. 

In contrast, Kyrgios was just 19 and ranked 144 and only gained entry to the Championships as a wildcard.

For his first three rounds, the Spaniard lost the first set but recovered to win in four, including a second round victory over his 2012 conqueror Rosol. 

Kyrgios also had an eventful first few matches with two four-set victories either side of an impressive performance against Richard Gasquet, coming from two sets down and saving nine match points to seal his first top-50 scalp. 

The big serving Australian stunned the Centre Court crowd by winning a first set tie-break on his third set point.

Kyrgios hit a stunning winner between his legs in the second set and approached another tie-break without having lost a point on serve. 

However, this run ended at 6-5 down, when after saving a set point, a forehand foud the net as Nadal levelled. 

The third set continued in the same vein in this tight encounter but the teenager slammed home a forehand winner in a second tie-break to stand one set away.

It looked that the match would not go the distance as Kyrgios broke for 3-1 with a couple of stunning backhands and typically his biggest ever win was confirmed with ace number 37.

This made the Australian the first outside the top 100 to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam since Jim Courier’s loss to world number 193 Andrei Olhovskiy at Wimbledon in 1992.   

Dustin Brown beats Rafael Nadal 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-4 – Wimbledon 2015 second round

The Spaniard returned to the All England Club the next year in a slump, having failed to reach a major semi-final in the intervening period including losing his first French Open since 2009.

Brown had come through qualifying, being ranked 102, but had not dropped a set. 

Looking to finally put this horror run of Wimbledon losses behind him, Nadal had beaten Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets in the first round.

The German-Jamaican Brown lost his first set to Yen-hsun Lu but had recovered to win in four.

The dreadlocked underdog had already beaten Nadal in their only other meeting on the grass of Halle the year before and he fired 20 winners to take the first set. 

Nadal broke twice in the second set to comfortably level the match and it seemed as though he would go on to dominate.

However, the all-round game of Brown proved difficult for the Spaniard and another trip to the net, one of 89 in total saw him grab the crucial break.

By now Nadal’s fearsome forehand was misfiring and he just had to hope Brown was feeling the after effects of his five-set doubles match the day before or a case of nerves.

It seemed Brown was nervous when he missed a volley on match point with Nadal saving a second with an ace.

Brown was forced to serve it out but showed no pressure as he sealed it with an ace of his own. 

The feat could not be repeated in the next round as Brown lost in four sets to Viktor Troicki. 

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