Home Page

2-time champ Nadal loses 15-13 in 5th set, eliminated at Wimbledon

usa-rafael-nadal-wimbledon.jpg
USA Today Images

2-time champ Nadal loses 15-13 in 5th set, eliminated at Wimbledon

LONDON — First, Rafael Nadal erased a two-set deficit. Then, he erased four match points. Nadal could not, however, erase the fifth.

After digging himself out of difficult situations over and over during the course of a riveting encounter that lasted more than 4 hours, Nadal suddenly faltered, getting broken in the last game and losing to 16th-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 15-13 in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Monday.

The surprising defeat extended Nadal's drought without a quarterfinal berth at the All England Club to six years.

He has won two of his 15 Grand Slam championships at Wimbledon, and played in the final three other times, most recently in 2011. But since then, Nadal's exits at the All England Club have come in the first round (2013), second round (2012, 2015) and fourth round (2014, 2017).

All of those losses, except Monday's, came against men ranked 100th or worse. The 34-year-old Muller is not exactly a giant-killer: He had lost 22 consecutive matches against foes ranked in the top five. And he'd only reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal once before, at the 2008 U.S. Open.

But Muller managed to pull this one out, unfazed but allowing opportunities to pass him by.

Nadal served from behind throughout the final set and was twice a point from losing in its 10th game. He again was twice a point from losing in the 20th. Only when Muller got yet another chance to end it did he, when Nadal got broken by pushing a forehand long.

Nadal entered the match having won 28 consecutive completed sets in Grand Slam play, equaling his personal best and a total exceeded only twice in the Open era. He arrived at the All England Club coming off his record 10th French Open championship, and 15th major trophy overall, and seemed primed to be a factor again at the grass-court tournament.

Muller, though, presented problems. He already owned one victory over Nadal at Wimbledon, back in the second round in 2005.

That was before Nadal figured out how to bring his talents to bear on grass. From 2006-11, Nadal reached the final in five consecutive appearances at Wimbledon (he missed it in 2009 because of bad knees), winning titles in 2008 and 2010.

Muller's next opponent will be 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic.

Other men's quarterfinals matchups are defending champion Andy Murray vs. 24th-seeded Sam Querrey of the U.S., seven-time champion Roger Federer vs. 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic and 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych against Novak Djokovic or Adrian Mannarino. The Djokovic-Mannarino fourth-rounder was postponed until Tuesday; it had been scheduled to be played on No. 1 Court after Nadal-Muller concluded.

But that duo played on and on, past 8 p.m., when the descending sun's reflection off a part of No. 1 Court bothered Nadal so much that he held up the action in the fifth set. Chair umpire Ali Nili asked spectators to stand in the way and block the rays. A few games later, Nili told fans to stop doing the wave so play could resume, suggesting they wait for the next changeover to resume.

Despite playing as cleanly as can be in the opening set -- zero unforced errors -- Nadal could not solve Muller's big serves and aggressive forays to the net for crisp volleys. There was more of the same in the second set. After only 75 minutes of play, Nadal appeared to be in serious trouble.

But Nadal adjusted. He stepped a little farther behind the baseline to give himself more time to react to Muller's power. He also began to have more success with his own serve, winding up with 23 aces, an unusually high total for Nadal and only seven fewer than Muller.

Still, things were not looking good when Nadal served while down 5-4 in the fifth set. He double-faulted to trail 15-40. On Muller's initial match point, Nadal delivered a 116 mph (187 kph) ace to a corner. On the next, at 30-40, he spun a 103 mph (166 kph) second serve at an extreme angle, drawing a forehand return into the net. Nadal's four-point, game-ending, match-saving flourish ended with a 120 mph (194 kph) service winner and a 121 mph ace. He celebrated with three shouts of "Come on!" and some violent fist pumps. In the stands, his girlfriend stood and punched the air and yelled, "Si!"

The match, of course, was not yet over. It would continue for 18 more games and 1 more hours.

Muller's next two match points came when he had a 10-9 lead. Nadal deleted the first with a volley winner, and the second disappeared when Muller shanked a return of a 94 mph (152 kph) second serve.

The fifth set alone lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes, and Nadal could not manage to complete what would have been his fourth career comeback from two sets down -- and first in a decade.

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

Take this quiz and we'll tell you what shore town you are

1920x1080_what_shore_town_are_you.jpg
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Take this quiz and we'll tell you what shore town you are

Ah, the official start of summer is upon us, in the form of Memorial Day Weekend. 

The fresh sun will descend upon us, the sand will be hot and the waves will be strong. Maybe your favorite ice cream shop will be open or you can go for a safe bike ride, or maybe just turn on a YouTube video of the beach if you aren't heading to the shore yet. 

While MDW certainly will look a lot different this year at our shore towns of choice, one thing we can all agree on is that each town has it's own personality. 

But which shore town matches YOUR personality? Answer some Philly-centric questions and we'll tell you. 

Enjoy a safe and socially distanced MDW, folks, whether it be at the shore town that matches your personality or not.



 

John Oliver thinks Philadelphia sports fans are 'a horde of inhuman monsters'

usat-eagles-fans.jpg
USA Today Images

John Oliver thinks Philadelphia sports fans are 'a horde of inhuman monsters'

In the latest episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver focused on the state of sports. He discussed how difficult the idea of bringing back sports during a global pandemic is and reviewed some of the risks that come along with rushing back to competition. 

Oliver also took quite the shot at Philly sports fans. 

To illustrate the devastating economic impact that the coronavirus has had on many stadium workers, Oliver showed the stories of two Philadelphia-based employees.

“I have food on the table now,” Aisha Johnson, a maintenance worker at Phillies games, said. “I’m making it right at this moment, but I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.”

Oliver then decided to insert a very strong opinion. 

“It’s worth remembering that, although Philadelphia sports fans are a horde of inhuman monsters who deserve neither sympathy nor understanding, the people paid to tend to those monsters really depend on their monster money,” he said.

In his own way, Oliver did later give a little praise to a prominent Philly sports figure. He said Flyers mascot Gritty’s isolated exploits “blew [other mascots] away without even trying.” However, Oliver also commented that Gritty’s closet evolutionary relative is a “used dog toy.” 

Oliver’s segment is worth watching if you’re interested in a unique brand of humor that casually roasts Philadelphia sports, as well as an overview of the many logistical and moral issues revolving around the question of “When should sports come back?”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.