And so the beat does not go on. This wasn’t the way it was meant to end for Dustin Brown. Not with an anti-climatic double-fault, sealing a defeat in four sets to Serbian Viktor Troicki, 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
By the time you read this, Brown will be back home in Germany, preparing for a club match in Cologne later today. So it goes for someone who relatively recently travelled around Europe in a VW camper van to save on hotel costs when playing in tournaments on the Challenger circuit.
He was eyeing the clock as he spoke with reporters afterwards. He had a plane to catch, he explained. Let’s just hope it is not a one-way ticket back to obscurity.
This felt like a bit of a let-down yesterday as Brown failed to maintain the form that saw him see off Rafa Nadal in the second round on Thursday. Even the strips of advertising that adorned his shirt on that occasion were absent.
These were one-off deals struck on the eve of that particular match, as might be expected from lastminute.com, one of two sponsors. But such brands had abandoned Brown to his fate yesterday on Court No.3, his stirring deeds of last week on the Centre Court now only a memory. Troicki was simply too strong for Brown in the end, something he acknowledged later.
The Serbian’s booming serve was a weapon that the more artful Brown could not overcome. But he went down as only he knows how. With style. One deft drop shot, which bounced on Troicki’s side of the court before spinning back over the net to land in Brown’s side, provoked gasps from the crowd.
In the second set tie-break Troicki hit four aces and one service winner. As Brown lamented afterwards, when someone does that “I’m most likely not going to win the tie-break”.
There is no chance for a few days’ rest and recuperation in London in order to enjoy his new-found, if potentially temporary, celebrity status.
It is straight back to work today on the Bundesliga club circuit in Germany, which guarantees Brown a moderate annual income. His bank account has at least been boosted by a sum of £77,0000 for featuring in three rounds at Wimbledon.
“Obviously it’s great to make money in a tournament like this,” he said. “But then sometimes people who look at that don’t look at the bunch of weeks where we play a first round Challenger in Italy, for example, and you get €300 minus 30 per cent tax. You can check what a flight [costs] from Frankfurt to Italy.”
The time to look back and reflect on his deeds here will be at the end of the year, when he is sitting with a beer in Jamaica, his father’s homeland. “When I’m in Jamaica, then I can have a Red Stripe and say: ‘Great year, Dustin. You played great.’ There’s no time for that right now.”
He doesn’t know yet whether he will be appearing at the US Open next month or not. His high-profile victory over Nadal might help him obtain a wildcard, or perhaps his ranking will be sufficiently high by then to gain direct entry to the main draw. Perhaps. “Well, that’s a little bit down the road,” he said. “The next thing is going to Cologne and playing club matches tomorrow morning.”
His story has nevertheless enthralled Wimbledon over recent days. Even before the victory over Nadal that rightly earned him his place in the spotlight, he was provoking discussion because of that mane of dreadlocked hair that hasn’t been cut for nearly 20 years.
His progress has even caught Jurgen Klopp’s attention. The currently out-or-work former Borussia Dortmund manager is in demand by clubs in the English Premier League and was present at Wimbledon yesterday to cheer Brown on. Not that Brown seems too clued-up about his compatriot, even though he organised for Klopp to be given tickets from his own allocation for yesterday’s clash.
“A friend of mine asked me if I could put the tickets down,” Brown explained later. “I wrote the name down on the paper, but I didn’t think about it. Then when I went on the court, I saw him. I was like: ‘OK, maybe that’s the person I left the tickets for’.”
“It’s great,” he added. “It’s an honour for him. I don’t know a lot about soccer, so I’m not going to get into that. It was an honour for him to be there and watch the match.”
Similarly, it was an honour for us to be entertained by Brown. But nothing’s forever, as one of his heroes, the reggae singer Dennis Brown (no relation), once sang.