Everyone's a loser - defeat Nadal at your peril


It's as traditional at Wimbledon as the all-white playing gear rule and just as rigid - beat Rafael Nadal, lose the next round.

That's the dilemma facing Gilles Muller who will go into his maiden quarter-final at the All England Club hoping to avoid the fate of the last four men to have shocked Nadal at the tournament.

Lukas Rosol in 2012, Steve Darcis in 2013, Nick Kyrgios in the following year and Dustin Brown two years ago all defied the odds to knock out the great Spaniard.

However, they were all then unceremoniously dumped out in the next round.

"I'm pretty confident that I will be in good shape for Wednesday," said 34-year-old Muller after his epic 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 win over 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal on Monday.

The likes of Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios and Brown were all similarly confident after their moments of triumph only to exit with barely a whimper one round later.

Rosol was ranked 100 when he made his Wimbledon debut five years ago. The Czech had lost in the first round of qualifying in all of the previous five years.

However, in a stunning display of big-hitting and with a barely-concealed desire to get under the skin of Nadal, Rosol claimed a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 second round win.

"It's like a miracle," he said after his Centre Court stunner.

The miracle was short-lived.

In the third round, he was shunted out to Court 12 where he went down tamely to experienced German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-3, 7-6.

"I can play with anyone. That's what I feel. And also these players now are going to see they can lose against me," said Rosol.

'No one can take it away

The 31-year-old Czech, now ranked at 215, was back in qualifying this year and made the main draw where he again reached the second round losing in five sets - to Muller.

Darcis was ranked 135 when he knocked out Nadal 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in the first round in 2013.

It was Nadal's first ever opening round defeat at a Slam.

"I just wanted to play my own game, coming to the net and not playing far from the baseline," said Darcis.

That was as good as it got for Darcis as a shoulder injury then forced him to withdraw from the tournament handing Lukasz Kubot a walkover into the last-32.

Twelve months later, Nadal fell to 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, playing on a wildcard, in the fourth round.

Ranked 144, Kyrgios romped to a 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 victory on his Centre Court debut, becoming the first man outside the top 100 to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam since 1992.

His moment in the spotlight too was short-lived as 24 hours later, he lost in four sets to Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals.

"It was such a great achievement beating Nadal," he said. "That's something that no one can take away from me."

Nadal was on the wrong end of yet another shock in 2015, this time at the hands of flamboyant German shot-maker Dustin Brown, the world number 102.

Making his Centre Court debut at the age of 30, Brown claimed a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win in the second round.

"I had never been on the Centre Court at all before," said Brown. "I thought I would freak out a little."

Brown was also unable to maintain the winning momentum, losing in the third round to Serbia's Viktor Troicki in four sets.

"When I'm in Jamaica at the end of the year, then I can have a Red Stripe and say: 'Great. Great year, Dustin, you played great'."

Unlike Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios and Brown, 16th seed Muller is no outsider and will face seventh seeded Marin Cilic on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals.

Nadal vows return despite fresh Wimbledon headache

Rafael Nadal must have realised it wasn't going to be his day at Wimbledon when he bashed his head against a door frame performing a warm-up leap in the bowels of Court One as he prepared to face Gilles Muller on Monday.

Almost five hours later, the great Spaniard was nursing a weighty dose of hurt pride as yet another Wimbledon campaign slipped away from him.

His dramatic 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 fourth round defeat against Luxembourg's 16th seed Muller was his fifth exit before the quarter-finals in his last five visits to the All England Club.

It was a heartbreaking blow for Nadal who arrived at the tournament fresh from a record-setting 10th French Open title with genuine belief that he could capture a third Wimbledon title and a 16th career major.

Despite his disappointment, and what appeared a valedictory wave to all corners of the shell-shocked court, the 31-year-old insisted he will be back in 2018.

"I never said I am not going to come back. I want to come back because I want to play more times in the Centre Court," said Nadal.

Nadal feels he owes his fans a successful last hurrah at a tournament where he has also been runner-up on three occasions.

"Great feeling. Great atmosphere. I put everything on the court. I played with all my passion. The crowd normally appreciate that," said the 2008 and 2010 champion.

"Sorry for the crowd that were supporting me."

World number two Nadal converted just two of 16 break points, while Muller fired 30 aces and 95 winners.

Muller mulls over revival

Muller's reward is a first Wimbledon quarter-final appearance against former US Open champion Marin Cilic.

In a pulsating final set, which stretched to 95 minutes, Nadal saved two match points in 10th game and two more in the 20th.

In between, Muller had to fight off a break point in the 13th game and four more in the 19th.

Nadal was always chasing the score and he finally cracked in the 28th game of the decider when he went long with a return.

"I lost in the fourth round. That's not the result that I was expecting," added the Mallorcan who had reached the last-16 without dropping a set.

"It's true that I played some good matches, but the same time is true that I didn't want to lose that match.

"So it is tough to analyse that in a positive way right now. I played better than other years, true. At the same time I was ready for important things, so I lost an opportunity."

For late-bloomer Muller, Monday's sensational win ended a 22-match losing streak against top-five players.

It also came four years after his ranking nosedived to 366 in the world as he battled a potentially career-ending elbow injury.

"I've been able to play full seasons now for the last three or four years," he said.

"The last injury I had was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Because I had problems with my elbow, I wasn't able to touch a racquet.

"I was able to work out physically, I got myself into the best shape I ever was. Since 2014 when I came back, I'm able to play full seasons without any breaks during the season.

"I have a lot of confidence in my body now, which I didn't do before."