You knew it was going to be a match if you knew their history — unheralded German-via-Jamaica’s Dustin Brown beating Rafael Nadal last year at the ATP event in Halle.
Fluke? No. That was when Rafa was even functional.
This year, the same Dustin Brown, but a mentally decimated Rafa. If you were into online tennis betting, you bet the house. And you won.
On Thursday at Wimbledon Dustin Brown became the fourth consecutive non-Top 100 player to beat Nadal at Wimbledon, triumphing 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
If you needed to test the temperature of the match, you needed to only watch the first game with Brown serving — sick drop shot to win the first point, insane over-the-shoulder two-handed-backhand put-away to the win the second point, ace to win the third point, and sicker drop shot to win the service game at love. Game on, and game over.
“It was easy for me to play my game against him because I had nothing to lose,” Brown said. “I am lucky to have played him twice on my favorite surface. I wouldn’t want to play him on hard court or clay. Here it was great to play serve-and-volley so well and to do it for that long. I knew what the plan was. I wanted to take him out of his comfort zone and I held it together for the whole match.”
For Rafa it was no surprise facing Brown’s astounding grasscourt arsenal of drop shots, slices and huge hitting. It is nevertheless back to the drawing board to try and bounce back for the second half of the 2015 tennis season.
“I was ready to compete,” Nadal said. “I lost. Obviously this is a bad moment for me. I have to keep going and working more than ever to try to change that dynamic. I am a good loser. I always accept. I am not happy, but I accept that I am not good enough. I don’t know if I will be back to the level of 2008 or other years. If I don’t make that happen — well, I played five finals here, and took the trophy home two times, so it’s not bad.”
That doesn’t sounds good. More from Rafa when the U.S. hardcourt season gets underway, unless he chooses to take to the dirt to regain some confidence.
So, game over. Nothing more to write about. Unless it’s the grass-certified American Sam Querrey getting absolutely housed by No. 2 seed Roger Federer, who en route to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win hit the sickest between-the-legs lob you’ll ever see, just for shits and giggles.
“You want to go over and give him a high five sometimes, but you can’t do that,” Querrey said of standing on the other side of the net during the brilliance. “You want to beat him, but he’s fun to watch.�”
Federer will next meet unseeded big-serving Aussie Sam Groth.
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 3 Andy Murray who rolled Dutchman Robin Haase 6-1, 6-1, 6-4, and No. 6 Tomas Berdych who overpowered Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
On the upset tip Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili outlasted No. 15 Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, and Canuck Vasek Pospisil used his all-court game to temper the tortured No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
Other seeds into the third round were No. 12 Gilles Simon over Blaz Kavcic in four, No. 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga straight-setting Albert Ramos, No. 18 Gael Monfils straight-setting Adrian Mannarino, No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut outlasting Benoit Paire in five, No. 22 Viktor Troicki beating Aljaz Bedene in four, No. 23 Ivo Karlovic edging Alexandr Dolgopolov 13-11 in the fifth, and No. 25 Andreas Seppi stopping Croat riser Borna Coric 6-1 in the fifth.
On the women’s side three Top 10 seeded players moved into the third round, and one went home.
Winners in straight sets were No. 2 Petra Kvitova rolling Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-2, 6-0; No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki fending off a late charge from unheralded Czech Denisa Allertova 6-1, 7-6(6); and No. 10 Angelique Kerber dispatching of the big-hitting Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-2.
“I’m very pleased how is everything going so far,” said Kvitova, who in two matches has lost three games. “I can’t really say surprised. I think I’m kind of handling it better than 2012 when I was defending my first title. I’m nervous before each match when I’m going to play here, especially first round…I’m trying to really enjoy it. Of course, playing here on the grass which really suits my game.”
She will next meet former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who came from a set down to beat Russian Evgeniya Rodina, and who she is 4-2 against career.
“It’s always big challenge to face her,” the Czech said. “Former No. 1 player. It’s always little bit special. Always she has sort of weapon to play. Especially her backhand, it’s really great. I played her in Rome. I never played her on grass. It’s really different.”
Kerber, somewhat flying under the radar, will next meet No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza.
“I’m feeling good, I’m playing good on grass and I like to play on this surface so I’m really having fun out there and trying to play good tennis,” Kerber said. “I’m really looking from round to round about my next opponent, and that’s it.”
No. 8 Ekaterina Makarova was an upset victim, ousted by Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova. She was one of four seeded upsets on the day, joined in the seed graveyard by No. 17 Elina Svitolina who feel to Casey Dellacqua 7-6(3), 6-3; No. 25 Alize Cornet who was outlasted by Belarus qualifier Olga Govortsova 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-1; and former world No. 2 and No. 26 seed Svetlana Kuznetova who was tripped up by Czech Krystina Pliskova 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Other seeded winners Thursday were No. 13 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 15 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 18 Sabine Lisicki who needed to come from a set down to beat American Christina McHale 6-1 in the third, No. 20 Garbine Muguruza who needed three sets to subdue Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, No. 21 Madison Keys, and No. 31 Camila Giorgi.
Bacsinszky will have her hands full next against the dark horse Lisicki.
“I’m adapting myself quite well to any kind of courts, and I think my game is getting better and better on grass,” the Swiss said. “Actually you can do a lot of stuff on grass, as long as you understand the game of the surface…It’s going to definitely be a very difficult match for me. I don’t put myself as the favorite, but the opposite, because I think she has some great weapons.”
Friday at Wimbledon offers a monstrous number of highlight matches to look for:
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)  vs. Richard Gasquet (FRA) 
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS) 
Serena Williams (USA)  vs. Heather Watson (GBR)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI)  vs. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Marin Cilic (CRO)  vs. John Isner (USA) 
Nick Kyrgios (AUS)  vs. Milos Raonic (CAN) 
Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 
Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) vs. Venus Williams (USA) 
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) v. David Goffin (BEL) 
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 
Belinda Bencic (SUI)  vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)
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