Rafael Nadal suffered a shock Wimbledon exit to a player ranked outside the world’s top 100 for the fourth consecutive year, after losing in four sets to Dustin Brown. Nadal, seeded just 10th at the All England Club after a hugely disappointing 2015, lost in two hours and 33 minutes, 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-4 to the German qualifier, ranked 102 in the world.
The champion at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010 and runner-up in 2011, Nadal has endured a miserable run on the Wimbledon grass, having also been upset early in the tournament by Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and Nick Kyrgios in the last three years. For Brown, though, it is by far his greatest win of a journeyman career. The 30-year-old, born to a Jamaican father and German mother, represented Jamaica before switching nationality to Germany in 2010 and is now the improbable holder of a 2-0 career record over the 14-time Grand Slam champion, having also beaten him on the grass at Halle last year.
And the 30-year-old Brown showed remarkable poise to hold his nerve and serve out the victory with an ace on the most famous court in world tennis. Playing with a serve-volley game more familiar to the championships of years past and with his dreadlocks flowing, Brown pressured Nadal from the off both on his own serve and on the Spaniard’s. Playing throughout at a phenomenally quick pace and with unrelenting aggression, Brown never allowed Nadal to settle. While Nadal did hit back to take the second set, Brown was able to break early in the third and fourth sets. And Nadal, standing up to the baseline to return throughout, could never get a read on Brown’s booming serves, while his famed forehand consistently misfired.
Nadal had high hopes for an improved Wimbledon run having made the most of an extra week's preparation after the French Open by winning a warm-up tournament in Stuttgart. But following on from a second ever defeat at Roland Garros to Novak Djokovic, his year has taken another turn for the worse.