On June 28, 2012, in a second round match between the number two ranked player, Rafael Nadal, and a guy ranked 98 slots below him, Lukas Rosol, a curious thing happened.
Two-time Wimbledon champion, 11 time grand slam singles winner, seventh man in history to have won all four majors, the second seed, one of three men considered most likely to be the eventual tournament winner, shockingly, was eliminated.
Rosol’s game was explosively overpowering, raging, determined. To my eyes it often appeared almost maniacal.
Towards the end of the mismatch, I muttered to no one in particular, “Somebody needs to dial 911. There’s a crime in progress. Rafael Nadal is being mugged.”
It was an entrancing spectacle, an astounding masterpiece of sheer power tennis.
I wonder if either player slept later that evening? Nadal may have been too depressed, Rosol too pumped.
If sleep occurred for Nadal, It’s easy to imagine him awakening the morning after the carnage wondering, hoping, maybe it had all simply been a terrible nightmare.
Sorry Rafa, it really happened.
Conversely, I envision Rosol awakening from a euphoric slumber and, uttering the catchphrase voiced so often by the fictional character Urkel from the 90’s sitcom, “Family Matters,” “Did I do that?”
Yes Lukas, you did do that. Like Steve Urkel, you wreaked havoc.
As expected, after playing the greatest match of his professional career, Rosol was unable to reproduce even a facsimile of that 2nd round performance. Philipp Kohlschreiber dismissed him in the third round 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(6).
Though disappointed, I’m sure Rosol’s spirits were still buoyed by what he had accomplished.
He made a name for himself. He wrecked the men’s singles draw. He provided a glimpse of what is possible when a player is in the zone.
Andy Murray now has a far greater chance of winning this tournament. He can become a messiah for the British and lead them out of the depths of a 76 year old sour tennis funk, a void, a depression.
If that happens, the British should write a heartfelt letter of appreciation to Lukas Rosol, provide a generous lifelong stipend, retirement benefits and free tickets to all future Wimbledon events for him and his entire family.
And the royal family should have him over for tea and biscuits. In fact, if Murray wins they should adopt Rosol or at least make him an honorary royal family member.
France’s Jo-Wilfred Tsonga also now has a greater chance to win. Federer has a better chance of winning his seventh Wimbledon title and 17th slam victory. And Djokovic has a better chance to repeat as Wimbledon champion.
All of these possibilities are due in large part to one improbable win by one unlikely winner in what appeared to be a predictable situation.
That’s what makes sports so compelling. There are no “sure things.”
So, on June 29, 2012, the day after “the upset,” Lukas Rosol felt exhiliration, Rafael Nadal, demoralization, and the tennis world, a novel expectation.
What a day “the day after” was.