On the 1st July 2014, Rafael Nadal was beaten in shocking circumstances by Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios in round four of Wimbledon, and on the 2nd July 2015 Nadal’s worst-ever 12 month spell was confirmed with a second-round loss to the dreadlocked qualifier Dustin Brown.
At the point which Nadal lost to Kyrgios, the Spaniard was still the world no.1 but what a difference a year makes; by the time Wimbledon ends in just over a week it is highly likely that he will be out of the world’s top 10.
There’s a cruel sense of irony that the start of this dismal run started at SW19 after so many years of scintillating brilliance against the great Roger Federer in two of the most captivating Grand Slam finals that the sport has ever seen. Maybe the road should go no further than the London grass though.
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A year after Kyrgios made Nadal look weak and feeble, Brown – outside of the world’s top 100 – made the former world no.1 look silly on Centre Court with a succession of nonchalant drop shots and sumptuous winners.
Praise and attention must go the German-born former Jamaica citizen, but his flowing black dreadlocks, along with stories of the 30-year-old traveling to tournaments in a Campervan during his youth, will certainly ensure that.
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Nadal made to look silly
Regardless of the brilliant underdog story that the newspapers will enjoy, Nadal should never have lost – dreads or dreads against him.
Take away the looks and stories of Brown and you have a thirty-something journeyman who, with this result, which takes him only into the third round, is enjoying his joint-best-ever Grand Slam showing.
Nadal was made to look silly on-court, he looked like a ghost at a rave. Brown had the energy, the skills and the passion, while his esteemed opponent looked laboured in attempting the most text-book of shots.
It was actually quite painful to see the 14-time Grand Slam champion getting quite so embarrassed on a stage where he was once christened as the one of the greatest-ever players.
Nadal looks finished
Fans of Nadal, his team and the man himself should not be subjected to such torment again.
I’ve said this before about Federer before – and been wildly wrong – but Nadal’s nosedive down the world rankings will begin to affect his legacy; obviously a huge part of such a dip has been his injuries, but a year after troubles forced him off-court and things only look like getting worse too be honest.
You would have to question the benefits of Nadal continuing on in the sport while he’s so out of character. It’s not as if there will be one big regret, only perhaps that Federer has won more, but Nadal has won as much, if not more adoration as his Swiss rival down the years.
He’ll be remembered as the sport’s greatest-ever clay player and will also undoubtedly go down in the history books as the winner of the greatest-ever Wimbledon final when he beat Federer in an almost pitch black scenes on Centre Court in 2008.
New fans to the sport won’t remember that though and if Nadal carries on those new fans will know him as the guy on one leg who gets beaten becomes prey for the sport’s one-match wonders…
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