Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Night of Upsets

What a night of sport, two upsets one slightly larger than the other but both significant.  Why do these things happen at the same time or roughly, whilst having to flick between two channels trying not to miss anything.

The first saw Italy beat Germany 2-1 in the Euro Championships semi-final.  It was a close match, the Italians showed us all what a good team they are by dominating Germany to go two goals up. Perhaps it should not have been such a surprise since they have never lost to Germany in tournaments, with a record of 3 wins 4 draws, the wins being the important matches. It now seems obvious the draw with Spain was no fluke either and shows their ability, maybe that match will give them the confidence to go all the way. 

Italy showed their class and perhaps the game against England, some of England’s ineptitude was because the Italian team are far better than anyone imagined them to be. Balotelli’s goals were well taken and because Germany just attacked in the second half, Italy could have added a few more.  German’s over confidence reminded me of England teams of old.

Overall Italy seems a good team and definitely has a chance to beat Spain.

In the other upset, which was gargantuan in comparison, Rafa Nadal lost in the second round of Wimbledon to number 100, Lukas Rosol, in five sets.  What can only be described as one of the biggest upsets in tennis, Nadal came up against someone who played the perfect match. 

I suppose every journeyman sportsman hopes the day they play their greatest game; it will be against the greatest.  Well for Rosol his dreams have come true because there is no way anyone could play that style of tennis consistently and not be world number one.  He was hitting forehands and backhands at around 95-99 miles an hour, and literally blasted Nadal off the court. 

What makes it all the stranger is Rosol is not a young, up and coming player, he is 26 and this is his first ever Wimbledon.  The gods were definitely smiling on him tonight and I can imagine a few other players will be thinking the same.  Nadal could have easily lost in straight sets, yet still, if the match had started about 20 minutes earlier I would say he probably would have won the fifth set, without the need for a changeover from an outdoor court to an indoor one.  Nadal being a creature of habit I would imagine found this change hard to digest; he has to have everything so perfect the differences between Centre Court, in and out is significant.  Still Rosol had to take his chance and boy did he do that.

After a delay of around 30 minutes to acclimatise the court, when the roof is on the sound changes and unlike the Rod Lever arena in Australia, the difference is massive.  Nadal never got into his stride, broken in the first game; then Rosol played the set of his life hammering winners like he was the world number two.  Nadal had no answer apart from trying to slow the guy down.  This tactic did not work and eventually Rosol was serving for the match.  Normally even at a break down I would fancy Nadal to pull it out the bag, against an opponent 98 places below him, especially in a five set slam.  This time he never got a chance as Rosol thundered down ace after ace, unreturnable after unreturnable, then the final hammer blow and the biggest upset for an age in tennis occurred.

I know I said it would be nice to see something different happen this year, maybe a new star in the making, but this was a WOW moment, totally incredible.  At least five players will be ecstatic with the news and two in particular will be probably even happier.  Murray if he manages to get to the semis will be delighted knowing he won’t have to face Rafa again.  Federer must be jumping for joy knowing his nemesis is out and he now only has to beat one of the top two, to become world number one again.  Even now I am still staggered I never expected it to happen, not to Rafa Nadal.

The final note for Rosol, how does he manage to repeat this awesome form?  His next opponent is nowhere near the stature of the great Spaniard, can he continue this gun slinging style of tennis?

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