Wimbledon: Giant-killer Lukas Rosol believes he can now go on to beat anyone
Rafael Nadal may not agree, but Lukas Rosol believes he has what it takes to go all the way at Wimbledon.
Until this week, the 26-year-old Czech was largely unknown on the professional tour, with his nomadic career showing just three wins at grand slam level.
But a stunning five-set victory over Nadal on Thursday night was a life-changer, sending the number two seed packing at the second-round stage of a grand slam for the first time in seven years.
The manner of his success left spectators open-mouthed, with even Rosol admitting “a miracle” had occurred under the Centre Court roof.
Nadal was typically phlegmatic when assessing his loss, conceding his fearless conqueror had deserved to win, but ruled him out of going on to challenge at the deep end of the tournament. “How old is he? Twenty-six. He didn’t before,” the Spaniard said, referring to Rosol’s modest CV.
But, after producing a performance that included a stream of nerveless winners – he served out for the match with three aces – Rosol was not willing to rule anything out.
“I think if I beat Rafa I can beat anyone,” he said. “It is just tennis and everyone is human. This is sport. Everybody can lose and everybody can win. We’re just people.”
Rosol appeared anything but human on Thursday. A man who sports an All Blacks-inspired Maori tattoo on his left calf, the Brno resident displayed a steely glaze more commonly associated with the fictional Rocky character Ivan Drago. Nothing seemed to faze him as he continually found ways to frustrate Nadal, from dancing on the spot as he received serve to planting one- and two-handers either side of the Majorcan.
“It’s not fair,” was Nadal’s complaint to the umpire, while the players even collided at a change of ends.
Rosol would not be distracted, though, using a 45-minute delay before the decider, while the roof was closed, to ramp up his concentration levels even more. “After the fourth set I had a little bit of pain. I just came to the locker room and took a shower. When I went back on court, I didn’t feel anything,” he said. “I was just like somewhere else. I believe in myself and knew that I could make it. I didn’t want to show Rafa what was inside me. I was so concentrated and in a trance a little bit.”
All that focus understandably unravelled at the end, with Rosol falling flat on the turf and soaking up the adulation of the crowd. “It was like I didn’t know who I had beaten. I just felt that I had won,” he said.
A third-round meeting with Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber is Rosol’s reward – a match that 48 hours ago he would have been a long-odds outsider to win. He at least has somewhere to stay in the build-up, though, with arranging accommodation often a concern for underdogs who achieve unexpected success. “I am staying with my family and friends five minutes from here,” added the unflappable right-hander. “There will be no problems with this, with me playing here more. I’m pretty happy.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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