Wimbledon: Out

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

In his second round match, Rafa played #102 Dustin Brown today at Wimbledon. Prior to this match, they’d only met once – on grass; won by Brown. Brown’s game is made for grass, but also lacks consistency. Would he be able to put together three sets against Rafa? The answer turned out to be yes. Brown defeated Rafa 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Why do underdogs often play the “match of their lives” against the top ranked players? They know they have no other choice. They know their usual game won’t win. It’s the price the greats play for being great. It’s up to them to raise their game to meet the challenge. Rafa tried and fought today, but his game just didn’t gel. Part of that was him (and his forehand being off), but a big part of it was Brown never allowing anything to sit long enough to gel. It is what it is. Wimbledon done. Move on.


Nadal Brown
Statistics on Serve
Aces 9 13
Double Faults 3 5
1st Serve % 72% 66%
1st Serve Points Won 64/93 (69%) 61/79 (77%)
2nd Serve Points Won 17/37 (46%) 21/40 (53%)
Break Points Saved 7/11 (64%) 2/5 (40%)
Service Games Played 20 21
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won ?/? (%) ?/? (%)
Second Return Points Won ?/? (%) ?/? (%)
Break Points Won 3/5 (60%) 4/11 (36%)
Return Games Played 21 20
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 81/130 (62%) 82/119 (69%)
Total Return Points Won 37/119 (31%) 49/130 (38%)
Total Points Won 118/249 (47%) 131/249 (53%)
Other Stats
Winners 42 58
Unforced errors 15 24
Net Approaches 26/41 (63%) 49/85 (58%)

(Again, the return stats are screwed up on the Wimbledon site.)

Rafa had an excellent return game at 1-1 and broke. Brown had an amazing return game of his own at 2-3 and broke back to level the set. Both men held until Rafa was serving to stay in the set. Brown went up double break point. Rafa saved one, but on the second one, Brown smacked a return right at Rafa. Rafa couldn’t get out of the way (whacked himself hard on the leg trying to) and he was broken. First set Brown: 7-5.

In the second set, Rafa once again broke in the 1-1 game. This time, he held on to the break lead and then broke again in the 9th game to take the set 6-3.

In the fifth game of the third set, Rafa served two double faults in a row to go from game point to break point against. He was broken: 2-3. That was the only break Brown needed to take the set 6-4.

In the first game of the forth set, Rafa went down a break point. In one of the few rallies of any length, Rafa worked to open the court and then stepped in to hit a fierce forehand only to have it go well, well wide. Brown went on to serve ou.

81 Responses

  1. emir says:

    You know at the end of the day when something is over it is over. He is one of the greatest player of all time. From this point on it is just up to him. Does he really want or not ?? Or does he really belief ?? Will his body allow him to compete at the highest level ?? Not all the great champions can play well after a certain age. Even with good results even Federer only manage to win 1 GS for the last 5 years.

    • Fay says:

      Well said Emir, I guess as fans we have to throw in the towel so to speak we have followed Rafa for so long through his ups and downs and absolute brilliance on court.. there will never be another lets just celebrate what we have witnessed and rejoice the memories he has given us god bless you Rafa we adore you and always will ….

  2. Caprice says:

    Wow, what fantastic analysis and insight from MallorcanChamp! Spoken like someone who not only knows Rafa’s game, but also understands his soul.

    I would like to comment on aggressiveness. Rafa already knows that he needs to play more aggressively. But he cannot play aggressively because of the 2 big holes in his game, precisely what MallorcanChamp pointed out: weak serve and weak return of serve, the 2 bread and butter shots of tennis. He surprised everyone at Montreal and Cincinnati 2013 when he played aggressive and received serve very close to baseline. Everyone thought he decided to change his style to be more aggressive but that was not true. It was not about WANTING to change, but about being ABLE to change. He was able to change in 2013 because his game was good and his confidence was good.

    Something that no one else has mentioned is Rafa’s unusual mentality. Rafa’s mental strength (short and long term) is unmatched in the sport. But if I’m not mistaken Rafa also suffers from a form of mental disorder. He has an abnormally excessive fear of the unknown, and especially a fear of losing. For many clay court seasons he played through his injuries (and still won, which just proves that “greatest clay court player ever” is but an understatement) but I think it’s no coincidence the sudden withdrawals from competition after RG 2009, Wimbledon 2012, before AO 2013 and after Wimbledon 2013. Fueling this fear of losing and fear of the unknown is an abnormal level of painful anxieties. His tics and rituals before serving (and is getting worse, you can see he is now exhibiting these tics even when receiving serve) is symptomatic of these painful anxieties. He cannot stop them. He is not being stubborn. He knows it is costing him time violation penalties. But he cannot stop them. Part of this whole plethora of anxieties and phobias is also a deep fear of the unknown and fear of change. His pre match rituals and his team is unchanged since he was a boy. For that reason, it may be a big challenge for him to accept a new addition to his coaching team, even though that may be what’s best.

    • luckystar1 says:

      So you’re saying Rafa has this problem and yet his whole team plus his family couldnt see it and won’t help? You talk as if Rafa is living and doing things alone.

      We all know he has his tics duri ng his matches, to give himself time to calm down and also to think what’s the next step to take for the next point, which may be why his coach didnt stop him from having his tics. He adds in more tics these days, perhaps less calm after his injury breaks and uncertainty as to his own level of play coming back from injury.

      Its understandable that he will have doubts as he’s not getting younger and both his existing rivals and new comers are improving while he’s away injured and trying to recover.

      Rafa is being called a defensive player but he’s not defensive at heart. When he first started out, he was way more aggressive, looking to attack to win points, not afraid to move to the net, even though he wasnt growing up playing tennis during the S&V era.

      Its only after his successes on clay during 2005 that he started to play his defence/offence style of tennis on clay and on the HCs. No one can fault Rafa’s style of clay court tennis because of his tremendous success on the surface; he combines speed and power, wonderful and amazing footwork on clay and his unique topspin FH that is so lethal on clay. However, that lethal combination wont be sustainable as he grows older and becomes slower and less powerful, as he is/was playing way back behind the baseline and so has plenty of ground to cover.

      He was already trying to get back to aggressive plays on the HCs and with successes, during 2010USO and during 2013 season. Its true that he needs to be confident and in good form for him to play his aggressive game, but being aggressive isnt something new to him( as he was already having an aggressive mindset since his younger days 2003/2004). Its just like Fed trying to revive his net rushing game, something he already has/had but was not in use since his successes from 2004 onwards playing primarily from the baseline.

      Fed gets in Edberg to help him revives his net rushing game. I’m not sure Rafa will do the same but Rafa has to first fix his current issue at hand, that of getting back his confidence, by fixing his FH, and getting consistency in his serve (that of Stuttgart will be wonderful).

    • Roxitova says:

      I have had similar thoughts to some of yours re. Rafa and change. Team unchanged since a boy, and his rituals. It’s possible this is going to stand in his way, at this point.

  3. PERSIPAN says:

    I have been reading this site for a long time, always being too shy to post myself. But now I`’d just like to say: I love Rafael Nadal, I love his way to play tennis, I love his personality, I love his serve, I love his way to cope with defeat, I even love his beginning baldness. Because I do not need him to fulfill my peronal dreams, I only want him to fulfill his own dreams. And for that I wish him all he best!

  4. Gatito says:

    Well, one thing seems certain: we all know what Rafa should do to get better; too bad that we’re not out there training him (or that he’s not reading this blog for that matter). After putting the stuff together it all looks straightforward: all Nadal would need to do is to change pretty much everything…

    Now I’m not at all an expert and I only play the game every other weekend, oh and yes: I’m pretty bad, actually. But I developed a passion for the game way back when, in my early teens, I used to watch Vilas and his band of “enfants terribles” tennis pals fire up the courts (some of the people in here weren’t even born I reckon -I don’t like that thought, really). So my opinion is based only on thousand of matches watched through 35+ years during which I’ve been privileged to witness great and no so great players come and go.

    What I take from that is that as far as player has the passion, the level and the will (motivation if you like) to play, he’s far from done. Call me delusional but when I watch Nadal, even now at his most depressing low, I can still see these three elements in him. The problem is that I see them working in an sporadic, uncoordinated, confidence-killer way (like each one is following its own path, intermittently on the top of it), which is a recipe for disaster IMO.
    Should he push the panic button? Fire his whole coaching team? or just add another tactician (my opinion) to it? Should he go play challengers like that other great did in the past? (By the way, Nadal already started to do that, sort of, when he decided to play 250s in South America), etc.? We can go on and on and on (which is the reason why places like this exists, hopefully), but ultimately he’ll do what he thinks is best for him, and that’s the only sure thing I can think of.
    I know: for a conclusion that “certainty” really is silly! Yet I say it because it’s going to be fascinating for me to see how close or how far my confidence as fan is from Nadal’s believe in his own abilities. The fact is that even after Brown and those depressing post-match photos, I’m not panicked, just exasperated. And I can still, today, picture Rafa biting a couple more grand trophies, how weird is that!

  5. Rob says:

    I see Brown has been beaten in four by Troicki . Rafa beat victor in Stuttgart! This is the story of the last five years at Wimbledon. I am gutted.

  6. mallorcanchamp says:

    I really don’t know what he should do better technically wise (that’s tennis trainers job) but I conclude all issues come from motivation. I only stated my analysis as a spectator POV and also from what I could perceive from his words in this last period of time (2014-2015).

    Technical improvements, court positioning, way to approach the game,etc. I’m not daring to say anything about this cause I’m not an expert and because Rafa and his team always found solutions for any specific on-court problem in his tennis career.

    Who knows if he’s hiding some other problems, personal ones or maybe some doctor told him something about possible reemerging injuries if he takes risks on this or that (back, knees)

    I just hope he’s OK and problems are only in his mind.

    For a guy who’s been 10 years at the top and already was losing some of his “passion” on 2012, sure at this point this wear & tear has to have some consequences on his state of mind. Maybe he “fooled us” or “spoiled us” all these years showing himself as a stoic warrior who never backed down, who always had the motivation of going forward despite injuries, facing amazing and very demanding rivals who constantly gave him new challenges.,etc. but truth is his humanity has finally shown up on court (off court has always been there :D)

    Yes, it could be over emir. In fact looks like it’s over right now. You can tell he’s needing his necessary time to get back at the top just like Murray did last year, but I don’t see it this way, not at this point with 7 months past and he’s still a mess tennis wise. Rafa never needed this much time to show recovery in form after a tennis break. There’s something more, not just a bad form.

    This great man dedicated all his youth days to tennis and sure lost some enjoyment of life in the process. Now he’s grown as a person, and has all the trophies, recognitions, “favorite son of Mallorca”, “Paris citizen” and so many other honors, I guess he has to feel somewhat being retired by people by the act of receiving these highest level recognitions.

    So what follows? He deserves to enjoy his last tennis years, not just being a “slave” of hardworking + injuries.

    It’s on his team and himself to make up a plan to make it easygoing as much as possible, enjoyable, motivating, for a 14-grand slam champion who suffered so much from injuries.

    This last chapter of his career should be fun for a man who won everything, and that’s it, it’s about having fun for him. This resurgence has to be exclusively about HIMSELF.

    If anyone is thinking about surpassing Fed GS tally just forget it because It won’t come other way if it’s not by the way of Rafa’s finding his motivation again and enjoying tennis essence.

  7. Caprice says:

    Yes, for those outside his team, we can only speculate since we have no insider knowledge . This is especially true of Rafa because of his many injuries that no one knows about until he tells years later. We may never know the reason why he dropped his 2010 USO serve for instance.

    But one reason why he is so well loved is because unlike other successful players, he has all these obstacles and vulnerabilities (that he wears on his sleeve with childlike honesty) , yet he overcomes. The warrior off court is even bigger than the warrior on court. That is why he is so inspirational.

    The day will come when he retires. But until then, I still believe he has a few more slams in him.

  8. HK says:

    I am very sad, what happened to you Nadal, I know you have the Champ sprite and you can come back. All Champs can come back