London - It's as traditional at Wimbledon as the all-white
playing gear rule and just as rigid - beat Rafael Nadal, lose the next round.
That's the dilemma facing Gilles Muller who will go into his
maiden quarter-final at the All England Club hoping to avoid the fate of the
last four men to have shocked Nadal at the tournament.
Lukas Rosol in 2012, Steve Darcis in 2013, Nick Kyrgios in
the following year and Dustin Brown two years ago all defied the odds to knock
out the great Spaniard.
However, they were all then unceremoniously dumped out in
the next round.
"I'm pretty confident that I will be in good shape for
Wednesday," said 34-year-old Muller after his epic 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6,
15-13 win over 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal on Monday.
The likes of Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios and Brown were all
similarly confident after their moments of triumph only to exit with barely a
whimper one round later.
Rosol was ranked 100 when he made his Wimbledon debut five
years ago. The Czech had lost in the first round of qualifying in all of the
previous five years.
However, in a stunning display of big-hitting and with a
barely-concealed desire to get under the skin of Nadal, Rosol claimed a 6-7,
6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 second round win.
"It's like a miracle," he said after his Centre
The miracle was short-lived.
In the third round, he was shunted out to Court 12 where he
went down tamely to experienced German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-3, 7-6.
"I can play with anyone. That's what I feel. And also
these players now are going to see they can lose against me," said Rosol.
The 31-year-old Czech, now ranked at 215, was back in
qualifying this year and made the main draw where he again reached the second
round losing in five sets - to Muller.
Darcis was ranked 135 when he knocked out Nadal 7-6, 7-6,
6-4 in the first round in 2013.
It was Nadal's first ever opening round defeat at a Slam.
"I just wanted to play my own game, coming to the net
and not playing far from the baseline," said Darcis.
That was as good as it got for Darcis as a shoulder injury
then forced him to withdraw from the tournament handing Lukasz Kubot a walkover
into the last-32.
Twelve months later, Nadal fell to 19-year-old Australian
Nick Kyrgios, playing on a wildcard, in the fourth round.
Ranked 144, Kyrgios romped to a 7-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 victory
on his Centre Court debut, becoming the first man outside the top 100 to beat a
world number one at a Grand Slam since 1992.
His moment in the spotlight too was short-lived as 24 hours
later, he lost in four sets to Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals.
"It was such a great achievement beating Nadal,"
he said. "That's something that no one can take away from me."
Nadal was on the wrong end of yet another shock in 2015,
this time at the hands of flamboyant German shot-maker Dustin Brown, the world
Making his Centre Court debut at the age of 30, Brown
claimed a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win in the second round.
"I had never been on the Centre Court at all
before," said Brown. "I thought I would freak out a little."
Brown was also unable to maintain the winning momentum,
losing in the third round to Serbia's Viktor Troicki in four sets.
"When I'm in Jamaica at the end of the year, then I can
have a Red Stripe and say: 'Great. Great year, Dustin, you played great'."
Unlike Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios and Brown, 16th seed Muller is
no outsider and will face seventh seeded Marin Cilic on Wednesday for a place
in the semi-finals.