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 4½ hours, Nadal suddenly faltered, getting broken in the last game and losing to 16th-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Monday. "It's tough to say what, exactly, made the difference at the end," Muller said. "To be honest, I haven't really realized what just happened." The surprising defeat extended Nadal's drought without a quarterfinal berth at the All England Club to six years, the AP reports. Bleacher Report's take on Muller's win: "Giles Muller shocked the tennis world."
Nadal 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 US Open. But Muller's powerful serve and crisp volleys make him what Nadal called "uncomfortable" to play. 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.