Nadal ‘Mullered’ at Wimbledon on Manic Monday, schedule crashes for Djokovic
By Ros Satar
- Gilles Muller  def. Rafael Nadal  6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 15-13
- Faces Cilic next
- Novak Djokovic will have to play his fourth round
LONDON, UK – Rafael Nadal lost to Gilles Muller for the second time at Wimbledon as the manic Monday schedule caused chaos for Novak Djokovic who will have to play his match on Tuesday.
Muller stuns Nadal in five sets 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 15-13
There was a reason why tour veteran Gilles Muller received the highest push with the rankings seedings ahead of Wimbledon, and he demonstrated that amply as he battled his way in a five set thriller to beat Rafael Nadal for the second time on the grass of SW19.
Back then, Muller defeated the Spaniard at just his second Wimbledon appearance, just after he had won his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros – and it was the only time (until today) that he had got the win.
Now with both over 30, there was an element of experience coming into play – Nadal has far more that the deeper levels of a slam, but Muller’s gritty determination as much as anything kept the ball in play.
With Nadal sending his final forehand long, it took a few moments for Muller to register that he had done it again. For Nadal though, there was intense disappointment that he could not make an impact, although in honesty his decision to pull out of Queen’s as his warm-up to rest after a hectic clay court season had some foreboding.
He was quick to praise his opponent, saying: “I had my chances, and he had some mistakes, but not enough. But is true most of the time in the fifth he played more aggressive and he played better than me. I played well for moments, but I was a lot of times fighting against the score, Love-15, Love-30 too many times in the fifth.
“Finally normal thing when you are in the situation too many times, the normal thing is finally you lose. That’s what happen. Even like this, I think I played with the right determination, right passion, right attitude to win the match. But, yeah, his serve is huge. “
“I tried different things. But is true that in the fifth he hit a lot of good spots with the serve, and very consistent. Not many second serves.”
Muller has had an amazing year so far, winning his first ever tour title at the start of the year in Brisbane, and backing that up with the title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and reaching the semi=-final at Queen’s.
He described the end of the match:
“I mean, just tried to hang in there. I thought I played pretty well through the whole match. Rafa stepped it up in the third and the fourth set. Then I just told myself, Look, I mean, I’m doing the best I can. I’m playing well. Just hang in there and you’re going to get your chances. Got a few of them. Didn’t take the first ones. But still kept believing. Yeah, somehow in the end I made it.
“After I was struggling a bit on my service games in the third and fourth set, I kind of
started playing well on my serve again, and won my games more comfortably. I felt like at the end I was there all the time on his serves. I was at Love-30, 15-30, 30-All. I felt like I was there all the time. I had a couple match points. I just felt like what I was doing was the right way, just had to be patient.”
Ironically he will play Marin Cilic, who beat him the Queen’s semi-final, and as always has made his run to this stage largely under the radar.
Muller continued: “I played Marin not too long ago at the Queen’s Club in the semifinals. I lost to him in three tough sets. Obviously he’s playing good. He had match points to win that tournament. He’s back in the quarterfinals now here again. I guess he’s playing pretty confident at the moment, feeling well. I’m not sure what the score was today. I saw the first two sets. He won quite easy. I don’t know if he won in three or four sets. Looks like he’s feeling good and playing well, so it’s going to be a tough match, for sure.”
Djokovic stymied by schedule
The unique nature of Manic Monday has come under some press scrutiny over the weekend and on Monday. Wimbledon is the only Slam that attempts to push through the men’s and the women’s fourth round matches so that from Tuesday the men and the women alternate with a full day of rest the rest of the way to the final.
For Novak Djokovic, this will come un-stuck as there were reports of heated discussions taking places at the ATP offices with both Djokovic and Andre Agassi involved before his match was cancelled from the No. 1 Court schedule after an announcement had already been made that there would be no more play on Centre court.
The schedule has also been brought forward to 12pm so as not to delay the two scheduled quarter-finals, although there are concerns about inclement weather and its effect on the two quarter-finals scheduled on No. 1 Court.
The AELTC released a brief statement providing their rationale for why they did not move Djokovic’s match to Centre Court after Roger Federer had completed his match against Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.
The statement reads: “The safety and security of all visitors to The Championships is of paramount importance. The preference was to play the Djokovic v Mannarino match as scheduled on No.1 Court.
“When that was no longer an option, it was determined the match could not be moved to Centre Court due to the number of spectators remaining in the Grounds.
“As late as 8.30pm, 30,000 people still remained in the Grounds, and therefore moving the match would have created a significant safety issue.
“Both players were explained the rationale of postponing the match until tomorrow, which is now scheduled for a 12noon start on Centre Court.”
The capacity on Centre Court is a little under 15,000 seats.
Djokovic and Mannarino will play their match at 12pm, followed by Venus Williams v Jelena Ostapenko, and Johanna Konta v Simona Halep.
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