Rafael Nadal suffered his third straight loss on grass today after getting stunned by world No. 85 Dustin Brown 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round at Halle today.
Nadal, who won the French Open on Sunday, hasn’t won a grass court match since a first round win over Tomaz Bellucci at 2012 Wimbledon. Since the win Nadal lost to world No. 100 Lukas Rosol in the next round and then last year he was shocked by the 135th-ranked Steve Darcis.
Now the Spaniard who was seeking a 700th career win adds Brown to his list of recent head-scratching defeats on the surface.
“I don’t count 2012 like a loss,” Nadal explanined. “I was totally injured from my knee. I didn’t play anything for seven months. Last year I tried. I was not well enough. And this year, talking about my knee, I’m much better than last year. I lost today because my rival was playing better than me.
“It was the worst draw possible against a player like this. It’s very difficult to talk about the match because I don’t know what to say. I didn’t play. My opponent always served over 200kph with his first and second serves. So, that can happen on this surface if you face an opponent like this.”
Nadal is a five-time Wimbledon finalist with two titles, but is this recent losing streak cause for concern? He’ll now go into Wimbledon short on matchplay.
“I was able to play very well on grass in the past,” said Nadal. “But to play well on grass the most important thing is to play matches. You need to play with confidence… [and] you need to adjust. The only way to adjust is by playing matches and winning matches.
“I can’t really talk about how I played because I just didn’t play at all,” Nadal said. “This game’s done nothing for my Wimbledon preparations.”
Brown, who was playing his first career match against Nadal, kept the Spaniard off balance and out of rythym.
“I did not want to leave him any chance of playing his normal tennis,” Brown said of his plan. “He’s not going to let me find any rhythm,” he had said. That is precisely what happened.”
Brown celebrated by kissing the grass.
“It was something I’d discussed with my coach, even if many people probably thought I was crazy,” the 29-year-old Brown said. “It was the best game of my life.”
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