RAFAEL NADAL WROTE off his sensational Wimbledon loss to Lukas Rosol as an accident of sport and challenged the Czech, ranked 100 in the world, to make any further headway in the tournament.
World number two Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, and 11-time Grand Slam title winner, suffered one of the greatest shocks in tennis history against a man whose only five other Wimbledon visits had ended in first round defeats in qualifying.
“I played against an inspired opponent and I am out. That’s all. It’s not a tragedy. It’s only a tennis match,” said Nadal, who had played in the last five Grand Slam finals.
“At the end, that’s life. There are much more important things. Sure, I wanted to win, but I lost. It’s not a tragedy.”
Nadal praised Rosol’s performance, which was wrapped up by three aces — out of a total of 22 — in the decisive last service game and punctuated by service returns measuring up to 90mph.
It gave the 26-year-old Rosol an historic 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 second round win, a triumph which was rich reward for a blistering display of sustained free-swinging.
But Nadal said he doubted if the Czech could repeat his heroics in the rest of the tournament, which begins with a last 32 clash against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Ironically, it was Kohlschreiber who knocked Nadal out of the Halle grasscourt event at the quarter-final stage in the run-up to Wimbledon.
“He didn’t do it the past, but you never know what’s going on in the future. The thing is today he played great,” said the Spaniard.
“If he played the way he played the fifth set, you can win against everybody. But I think everybody who follows tennis knows that that’s very difficult to do every day.
“But if he’s able to do it this time, he will have his chance. I wish him all the best.”
The loss was Nadal’s earliest exit at a major since the same stage of the 2005 Wimbledon championship when he was beaten by Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.
“It’s painful to lose tonight, I’m not very happy but it was just the second round, I was a long way from the final,” said Nadal.
Nadal said his most immediate concern is to rest up before defending his Olympic title back at the All England Club next month, but insisted he was happy with the season so far.
After losing a thrilling Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic, he then romped through the claycourt season, capturing titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and then in Paris where he claimed a record seventh French Open.
“I feel very well mentally. But physically, you need to rest. I played for the last six months, playing almost every match possible in the tournaments that I played. I need to stop a little bit,” he explained.
Rosol, who has never risen higher than 65 in the world, has now matched his best Grand Slam performance, a run to the third round of the 2011 French Open.
“I just didn’t want to show him what is in me, you know,” said Rosol, who played the match at a breath-taking speed, taking the initiative away from Nadal.
“I didn’t expect this. Today I was somewhere else and I’m really happy for this. I still can’t believe it. It’s like dream for me. I just wanted to play three good sets, you know. Just don’t lose 6-0, 6-1, 6-1.
“It’s once in life you can play like this against Rafael Nadal on Centre Court and you can win against him.
“Sometimes I can wake up and I can beat anyone. Some days I know I can lose to a player at 500. I need to keep going at the same level.”
Rosol admitted that he and his coach, former tour pro Slava Dosedel, had worked out a plan to unsettle Nadal.
However, he was in no mood to share his secret.
“I cannot tell it to no one. Then Rafa will change everything.”