Rafael Nadal's tragicomic loss in Wimbledon 2017 still wins hearts

Kristopher Nichols
July 12, 2017

In a battle of the 2015 Wimbledon women's doubles champions, Martina Hingis got the better of former partner Sania Mirza in the third round on Court 17 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, as the Swiss and Taiwan's Chan Yung-jan defeated the Indian and Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-2, 6-4 in 71 minutes.

Heavy rain is forecast for virtually most of the day, meaning the centre court roof will be used. For the 34-year-old Muller, this is only the second time he has gotten to the quarterfinals in a major, with the last trip being at the 2008 US Open.

Both Nadal and Muller received a standing ovation and rapturous applause after the longest and arguably finest match of this year's tournament.

Cool to the point of being emotionless, Muller coped with giving up a two-set lead to the Spaniard and then continued, unruffled, through the marathon two hours 15 minutes final set before finally sealing victory.

Rafael Nadal suffered fresh Wimbledon misery on Monday as the two-time champion crashed to a stunning 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 fourth round defeat against Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.

The most-anticipated heavyweight matchup was 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic taking on Rome champion Alexander Zverev. It took five sets and some frustrations from the sun, but Muller upset Nadal to advance to the quarterfinals. The Djokovic-Mannarino fourth-rounder was postponed until Tuesday; it had been scheduled for No. 1 Court after Nadal-Muller concluded.

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However, Nadal headed into this match on a comical note when he banged his head in a door frame while warming up just outside the court. He staggered back a bit, then tried to laugh it off, before rubbing the top of his head.

Nadal had won 28 consecutive sets before Muller ended the run in spectacular fashion, snatching the first two sets. "So maybe he deserve it a little more than me".

Just weeks after winning his 10th French Open title, Nadal was condemned to his fifth exit before the quarter-finals in his past five visits to Wimbledon. He also fared better on his own serve, finishing with 23 aces, an unusually high total for Nadal and only seven fewer than Muller.

"It was not easy", Muller said, "to keep believing".

This led to a match-winning fifth set in which a two-game lead must be reached to win. "He played great, especially in the fifth set but I fought to the last ball".

Instead, it was Muller who was able to enjoy a win that seemed to be slipping away.

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