The fans on Wimbledon’s show courts went through a range of emotions on Thursday, for the gentlemen’s singles especially – four past winners were in action.
There were no surprises as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer eased through without breaking sweat on a day where SW19 cooled slightly after the searing heat of the previous day’s play.
Meanwhile the many and vocal Andy Murray fans would have felt a tad tense as the Briton prepared to face Robin Haase, a previous foe, on Court One before the third seed eventually powered through. However, it all came to a head on Centre Court as Rafael Nadal found himself on the receiving end of the result of the tournament against the dreadlocked underdog, Dustin Brown.
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Nadal’s defeat will leave many questioning his future in the sport. He may be a 14-time Grand Slam champion, but an uncomfortably bad 12 months leaves the Spaniard on the brink of exiting the world’s top ten.
A woeful tale of injury and a consequential loss of any form or rhythm has almost done for Nadal, the great player was been brought down to his dodgy knees. One man who will look on a little sympathetically will be Andy Murray; even if the destruction of the former world no.1 will help the Scottish-born star’s career prospects.
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Why? Well it was around a year ago today, and more recently still, that Murray was facing that same bleak future.
After going under the knife for a troublesome back injury in September 2013, a similar run of dismal form saw Murray limp through into the ATP World Tour Finals to face an absolute hiding at the hands of Roger Federer.
The defeat against the Swiss veteran could have finished the Brit off like Brown’s win looks like doing to Nadal too. It seems almost miraculous that Murray is back on his feet and playing like one of the favourites for the Wimbledon title, when it could have been him lying on his own dodgy back on Centre Court…
Bought back to life by Amelie Mauresmo and also, it seems, his marriage to Kim Sears, Murray needs to appreciate this second chance that he has been given and use it as the fuel to go for SW19 glory for the second time in three years.
When the draw was made, it was looked so tough on paper but the ousting of Nadal represent the removal of a potentially huge obstacle if he had been able to find his feet like Murray has.
Next in the firing line is the dangerous Andres Seppi, a win over the Italian puts him in the second week and gives him every opportunity to go and achieve glory again.