10 time French Open Champ ousted in 4 hour 48 minute marathon match
Rafael Nadal’s bittersweet relationship with Wimbledon endured another twist today when he was knocked out in a five-set, fourth round epic by Luxembourg journeyman Gilles Muller.
Nadal’s stunning 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 defeat came after defending champion Andy Murray and seven-time winner Roger Federer had cruised into the last-eight in straight sets.
The four hour and 48-minute stunner on Court One had the knock-on effect of pushing Novak Djokovic’s last-16 clash against France’s Adrian Mannarino back to tomorrow.
Djokovic had been the last match scheduled on the court but officials chose to postpone the tie instead of shifting it to Centre Court where it could, if necessary, have been completed under lights.
Just weeks after winning his 10th French Open title, Nadal was condemned to his fifth exit before the quarter- finals in his last five visits to Wimbledon.
“It was not my best match against a very uncomfortable opponent,” said world number two Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion. “Well done to him. He played great, especially in the fifth set but I fought to the last ball.” Nadal converted just two of 16 break points, while Muller fired 30 aces and 95 winners.
Muller, seeded 16th, will make his first Wimbledon quarter-final appearance against former US Open champion Marin Cilic on Wednesday. “Tired! It was a long match. I did really well in the first two sets then Rafa stepped it up and in the end it was just a big battle,” said Muller, who won on a fifth match point, more than an hour and a half after his first.
In a pulsating final set, which stretched to 95 minutes, Nadal saved two match points in the 10th game and two more in the 20th.
In between, Muller had to fight off a break point in the 13th game and four more in the 19th. Nadal was always chasing the score and he finally cracked in the 28th game of the decider when he went long with a return.
“I said, ‘just give it a shot, go 100 percent’, and it’s a great feeling to be winning that match,” added Muller whose only other win over the great Spaniard also came at Wimbledon, 12 years ago.