Gun-slinger Rosol returns to obscurity

Posted at 07/01/12 10:59 AM

LONDON - Lukas Rosol's star fell to earth as quickly as it rose on Saturday as the Czech who wrote his name into Wimbledon folklore by beating Rafa Nadal exited the tournament with a performance befitting his lowly ranking.

The man who had blown tennis ball-size holes through Nadal's concrete defences with firecracker forehands and massive serves lost 6-2 6-3 7-6 to German Philipp Kohlschreiber in just 97 minutes.

It was the sort of performance you would expect from a man ranked 100th in the world who had never gone past the qualifying competition at Wimbledon in five previous attempts, but not from the man who had dazzled under the bright lights of the Centre Court roof two nights before.

Everything about the occasion stood in stark contrast to Thursday night when Rosol created one of biggest shocks in grand slam history.

This time he was the main attraction.

Turning heads, pointing fingers and a growing murmur followed the Czech's every step as he wandered across the expansive Wimbledon grounds to the distant Court 12 for his third-round match.

Queues snaked round the outside of the court as disappointed fans who desperately wanted to grab a spot to see the history-maker in action, were told by overworked stewards to give up and move along.

The late evening gloom that provided the backdrop to Thursday was replaced by a piercing mid-day sun and the still, air-conditioned atmosphere of Centre Court under cover gave way to a blustery breeze.

The Rosol of Thursday was also nowhere to be seen, replaced by an impostor whose serves were frequently off target and whose grounstrokes had all their usual fizz but none of the accuracy that had Nadal floundering.

Rosol came out swinging with a swashbuckling backhand in the second point that had the crowd roaring in expectation and closed out his opening service game with a 125mph ace.

But it did not last. He was broken in his next service game and it became apparent that his star was on the wane.

Fiery outburst

The nearby Court Two crowd who had been craning their necks to snatch a look at Rosol went back to watching their own match as the fireballs that flew off the racket against Nadal were replaced by a fiery outburst at the umpire.

"Just watch the game, not the linesman," Rosol said when he disagreed with a call in the second set.

Kohlschreiber, who beat Nadal in Halle two weeks before Wimbledon, dominated almost every aspect of the match and while the crowd tried to lift the Czech with chants of "Lukas, Lukas" at the end of the third set, the 27th seed closed it out comfortably.

Rosol waved goodbye to the fans who responded with a standing ovation. The loser stayed to sign autographs while the victor climbed over a barrier to escape almost unnoticed.

"It was a little bit strange, let's say, if the loser is going to go back to the court," Kohlschreiber told reporters.

"But I think it's a big respect that he played such a great tournament. I don't know if the English people really liked him to kick out Nadal. That's maybe what they were cheering also today."

Rosol joked that he might soon need a press agent to deal with his new status.

"They ask me all these questions," he said. "They call me from Brazil, from this part of world, but also from France."

But the 26-year-old believes his victory over Nadal does not have to be a one-off.

"I can play against anyone," he said. "That's what I feel. And also these players now they are going to see they can lose against me." (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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