Lukas Rosol: the 'freak' who destroyed Nadal at Wimbledon
How did the unknown Czech overcome Nadal? Was he on drugs, asks Twitter?
THERE is only one topic of conversation among tennis fans this morning: who is Lukas Rosol and how on earth did he manage to out-muscle Rafa Nadal on Centre Court at Wimbledon?
The 26-year-old Czech, ranked 100 in the world, produced one of the most astonishing performances at SW19 for years as he went toe to toe with Nadal and took him down over five thrilling sets.
"Nadal is supposedly the alpha male in any slugfest," said The Guardian. But not this time. "The Czech was a train that kept on running over Nadal."
Tennishead magazine described his performance as "a remarkable show of fearless tennis". At times his ground shots were touching 100mph and he was like a man possessed, while the crowd were aware they were witnessing something outstanding.
"Wimbledon is traditionally thought of as a buttoned-up sort of place, where people clap politely and say 'Bravo', but the noise that greeted Rosol as he stood up to serve the final game on Thursday was ear-splitting. As was the roar that greeted his victory," noted The Daily Telegraph.
There have been similar upsets before. George Bastl beat Pete Sampras in 2002, and Ivo Karlovic dismissed Lleyton Hewitt a year later. But that was before the emergence of the 'Big Four' - Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray - whose consistency is what makes them so dominant.
It was the first time Nadal has lost at this stage of a Grand Slam for seven years. As for Rosol, it was only his second match at the Championships and only the second time he has won back-to-back matches on grass. He has lost in the first round of qualifying on each of the last five years.
At 26 he is the same age as Nadal, but he has a somewhat different record. The Spaniard has 583 career match wins, and Rosol now has 20. Nadal has 50 titles, Rosol none.
The 6ft 5in Czech from Brno, who sports a large Maori tattoo on his left calf, described the result as a "miracle" afterwards.
Tim Henman on the BBC described it as a "freak" performance and Nadal, who even resorted to body-checking his opponent between games in an attempt to knock him off his rhythm, admitted: "He played more than unbelievable."
But those comments and the extraordinary display of hitting by Rosol led some to question what they had seen. Among the avalanche of tweets marvelling at his performance were a few that, either mischievously or maliciously, cast doubt on its legitimacy.
Daniel Chalmers was one of many who wondered if the Czech had taken something. He tweeted: "Rosol's performance against Nadal was simply mind-blowing. I wonder if he would pass a drugs test right now?"
The question now is whether Rosol can replicate last night’s magic. If it was a one-night wonder, then it’s good news for Andy Murray, who overcame giant Croat Ivo Karlovic on Thursday and was expected to face Nadal in the semi-finals.
If Murray can maintain his current form, and if Rosol loses his, then the British number one could find himself with a clear run to his first Wimbledon final.