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Rafa Rosoled by Big Czech in 5th! Fed Re-takes #2

8 Americans reach 3rd round, 1 in progress (Querrey v Raonic)


June 28, 2012 | 11:25 PM

By now, practically the whole wold knows that RAFA was beaten today by a virtual unknown, 100th ranked Lukas Rosol. If you didn't see any of it and need to see it to believe it, you can watch it on this link to ESPN3:

http://espn.go.com/watchespn/player/_/source/espn3/id/532056/size/condensed/

Nobody saw this upset coming any more than John Roberts siding with 4 liberal justices as the deciding vote on health care. It reinforces just how remarkable it is that Rafa and Roger haven't been upset like this in a Major since 2005. They've escaped from their previous early round close calls at Wimbledon and elsewhere:

- in 2011, John Isner led Rafa 2-0 in sets in the 1st round in Paris

- in 2010, Robin Haase, then ranked #151, led Rafa 2-1 in sets in the 2nd round at The WC

- in 2007, Mikhail Youzhny led Rafa 2-0 in sets in the 4th round at The WC

- in 2006, Robert Kendrick, #237, led Rafa 2-0 in sets in the 2nd round at The WC

- in 2005, Rafa lost to #60 Gilles Muller at The WC

Just how much of neophyte was Rosol before today?

- today was his 2nd match ever in the main draw, his first match against Rafa or on Center Court

- in his 5 previous attempt to qualify, he had never won a match or lost to anyone higher ranked than 100

- like Rafa his best surface by far is clay, though his sample size of only 50 career ATP matches is small)

- after losing the 1st set, he had won 4 of 31 ATP matches

Making the loss more remarkable for Rafa is the often cited impossibility of beating him after he wins the 1st set: he's won 95% of matches after taking a one set lead, losing only 27 times before today.

What about Rafa's straight loss two weeks ago in Queens to Kohlschreiber?

Rafa looked tired in that one and seemed listless, without fight. By the end of the 4th set today, when Rafa had made no errors and won 6-2, Rafa was presumed to be unstoppable. Rafa's 5th set record before today was 15-4, and it appeared a given that he would move on quickly - perhaps winning 6-0 in the deciding set as Maria had done today against another dangerous shot-maker, Pironkova. Kohlschreiber awaited in the next round, and the score was surely to be evened with him.

But the 40 minute delay for the roof to close and the humidity to be brought down was just long enough to break his momentum. Rafa isn't as a rule a fast starter, and serving to begin the set was no favor after the break. He began with a double-fault and followed that with an error. After he righted things to 30 all, matters were taken out of his hands by a blistering forehand winner off the return of serve, and another winner on the ad point - 2 of the 20 winners Rosol would fire in the set, along with 7 of his 22 aces. Some of Rosol's serves were mid 130's, and some of his forehand and cross court backhand winners flirted with 100 mph. When Rafa attempted to get a racquet on them, he looked feeble.

In the 1st set breaker Rafa looked flustered with himself for not closing it out. By the end of the match, he looked meek and - hard to imagine - intimidated by his opponent. Rafa's 5th set tally was nothing to bolster his nerve: 3 of his 41 winners, 2 of his 16 errors, 3 of his 19 aces. For once, the glares after winners were coming across the net at him, and there were so many shots out of his reach that Rafa stopped sneering back across the net after each one. He didn't seem to know what to do, and didn't resort to his usual delay tactics. Instead, he stared blankly, like a little boy looking into bright lights for the first time.

Rafa had not played a poor match, and won just 2 points fewer than Rosol. His own serve was a weapon which reached 130 mph, netted him 19 aces and helped him win only 2 less points on serve than his opponent.

And there were errors from the Czech, though he made them off returns going for broke and thereby avoided rallies that might give Rafa any rhythm and a chance to get his teeth into the 5th set (the average unforced error he made was probably 6 feet out, some of them hit so hard and with so little care they seemed to be symbolic shots over Rafa's head). In any event the message about his game plan for the final set was clear: he was going nuclear.

There was simply no answer to this for Rafa, a man who wins his battle on the earth, and doesn't have a nuclear option. When Lukas commented after the match that he "had been somewhere else out there" [in his head], he was uncannily accurate: he had not played in the turf war where Rafa, thinking Lukas must return to earth, had awaited him.

Other big man have succeeded against Rafa and Roger with the nuclear option: Soderling in Paris over Rafa; Tsonga last year at The WC over Roger; Berdych over Roger at The WC in 2010; Del Potro over Roger at The Open in 2010. Three months ago in Davis Cup, Isner went nuclear on Roger on clay and beat him soundly. A week later, he did the same thing against Joker. Had John continued to play that way against Rafa last year in Paris, this scenario might have played out there.

This is the way to upset these champions - I hope John Isner gets the message. The lesson John should remember from his marathon win 2 years ago is that on grass, at least, his emotional investment needs to be entirely in his own service games. Slap a few returns and get lucky, you break - otherwise, see you in the tie-breaker, and try outlasting me in a 5th set. With the improvement in his baseline game and net play, John has forgotten why he wins: he can hold serve better than the other guy. The improvements in his all around game simply help him to hold and, once in a while, to break.

It's worth pointing out that Rafa didn't control 4 out of 5 sets today, and was lucky to win the 1st one 11-9 in a breaker in which he'd been down 3 set points. He was broken first in 4 of the 5 sets, and could have lost this match in 3 sets. Rafa only earned 4 break points, and was lucky to convert 3 of them.

For Rafa, his hopes of recovering the #1 ranking and gaining one more title off clay will have to wait. His next job will be to recover the #2 ranking from ROGER, who will take it from him regardless of whether he wins another match here. Joker is now looking over his shoulder at someone else.

3 More American Men and Women Reach 3rd Round Today:

- Brian Baker turned in the kind of Federesque performance today which would earn a straight A from any coaching academy for efficiency, a 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 beating off veteran Jarko Nieminen:

- 34 winners to only 8 errors

- 6 aces, 66% percent serving

- 0 break points allowed, 50% conversion of 12 break points earned

- 78% conversion at net

- 50% of return points won

In two matches, he's won all 6 sets, two of them 6-0, and has been broken only once. The amazing thing is, his draw is so good he could do this against his next opponent as well, Benoit Paire, a 23 year old frenchman who just won his 3rd match ever at The WC, defeating the grass-a-phobic #22 seed Ukrainian Dolgopolov 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4. It's even worth keeping in mind that Brian is in Nadal's bracket, which is now Rosol's or Kohlschreiber's (the german has never been past the 3rd round in 7 previous Wimbledons).

- Mardy Fish exceeded expectations by recovering after dropping the 4th set when he had served for the match, and won the 5th 6-3 against a tenacious Brit, James Ward (ranked 173). The only personal fact relayed about his opponent was that his father drives a cab in London, a fact which was mentioned almost as often as Mardy's arrhythmia. The only sign of Mardy's rustiness and fatigue was his relatively poor conversion rate at net: 38 of 64, or 59%. He probably won't find fault with his hitting 26 aces and 73 winners (to 33 errors), though he needs to lift his 1st serve percentage from 51% in order to win more than 67% of points on serve.

Mardy's next opponent will be David Goffin, who won in 4 sets today after losing the 1st set again to American Jesse Levine. Jesse started out playing fine tennis and keeping David off balance, but the 21year old seems able to find his game, an unspectacular looking all court model based on sound positioning and intelligent point construction that makes things look easier than they are. Think of Gilles Simon without quite as much dash. In his current condition after two difficult matches, beating david would b a good win for Mardy this year. After that, he would be likely to face Tsonga and fare less well (he's not beaten Jo, losing twice last year; Jo is playing well so far).

- Andy Roddick handled an opponent even older than him, 33 year old Bjorn Phau, who had reached the 2nd round for the first time and hadn't qualified since 2009. In winning 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3, Andy got a lot of 1st serves in (73%), was effective at the net (25 of 35, or 71%), and enough aces (13) to call it the kind of good day at the office he really needs. Andy has yet to lose a set, and could be re-considered a candidate to go deep if he can do the work to get past David Ferrer in the next round. As unlikely as this seems now, should he do it, he might then be ready to battle with Del Potro or Cilic in the quarters of Murray's half.

- Serena proceeded with haste today past #98 Melinda Czink, a 29 year old Hungarian. Next she has 29 year old Jie Zheng, the 25th seed. Her first real competition is another round away, at least.

- Varvara Lepchenko squeaked by the #31 seeded Russian Pavlyuchenkova, 7-6 (4), 6-4, fighting off 8 of 9 break points and converting 2 of 2. Her fortune is, however, over since she will face Kvitova in the next round.

- #28 seed McHale ousted #81 Mathilde Johansson 7-5, 7-5, with the help of her opponent's 31 errors to 12 winners. Christina's good fortune also appears to be over, as she now faces #8 seed Kerber, who beat a much more talented opponent, Makarova, 7-5, 6-3.

TOMORROW

On court #1, Sam Querrey will resume nuclear hostilities with Milos Raonic at a set all and 3-3 (each man won a tie-breaker, Sam the 2nd one). Between them, they have 34 aces, 76 winners and have exchanged just 1 break each.

SCHEDULE OF PLAY

Centre Court

1:00 PM

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Novak Djokovic (SRB)[1]

v

Radek Stepanek (CZE)[28]

LADIES' SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)[3]

v

Heather Watson (GBR)

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Roger Federer (SUI)[3]

v

Julien Benneteau (FRA)[29]

No. 1 Court

1:00 PM

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 2ND ROUND

Sam Querrey (USA)

vs

Milos Raonic (CAN)[21] To Finish 6-7(3) 7-6(7) 3-3

LADIES' SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Maria Sharapova (RUS)[1]

v

Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)

LADIES' SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Vera Zvonareva (RUS)[12]

v

Kim Clijsters (BEL)

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Nicolas Almagro (ESP)[12]

v

Richard Gasquet (FRA)[18]

No. 2 Court

11:30 AM

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Viktor Troicki (SRB)

v

Juan Monaco (ARG)[15]

LADIES' SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Christina McHale (USA)[28]

v

Angelique Kerber (GER)[8]

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)[26]

v

Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)[8]

No. 3 Court

11:30 AM

LADIES' SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Sloane Stephens (USA)

v

Sabine Lisicki (GER)[15]

GENTLEMEN'S SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Fernando Verdasco (ESP)[17]

v

Xavier Malisse (BEL)

LADIES' SINGLES - 3RD ROUND

Nadia Petrova (RUS)[20]

v

Camila Giorgi (ITA)

LADIES' DOUBLES - 2ND ROUND

Liezel Huber (USA)[1] /

Lisa Raymond(USA)[1]

v

Casey Dellacqua (AUS) /

Samantha Stosur(AUS)

Rick

Wimbledon 2nd round results, 6.28.12


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