By Ed Osmond
LONDON (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal lost in five sets to unknown Czech Lukas Rosol in the Wimbledon second round on Thursday, one of the biggest upsets in grand slam tennis history.
Just as the men's game was getting used to the metronomic progress of big three Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer to every grand slam semi-final, Nadal was stunned 6-7 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 by world number 100 Rosol.
The world number two and second seed, who had reached the Wimbledon final the last five times he played at the All England club and won the title twice, came up against an inspired opponent who struck a succession of outrageous winners to complete victory under the closed roof on Centre Court.
"In the fifth set he played more than unbelievable," Nadal told a news conference. "First three sets I didn't play well.
"It wasn't the best decision for me to close the roof but I have to accept it and he came back to play unbelievable in the fifth.
"He is able to hit the ball very hard without feeling the pressure so everything was going right for him in the fifth. I am very very disappointed."
The lanky Rosol was gracious in victory.
"So many emotions and I am really happy for this and I still don't believe it because it is just like a dream for me," he said.
"I never expected something like this. I was just hoping to play three good sets. I am very sorry for him but I played my best match ever. It means so much for me."
Nadal, who won a record seventh French Open title this month, looked on course to reach the third round in routine fashion when he came through a marathon first-set tiebreak 11-9.
But Rosol, who has never gone beyond the third round of a grand slam, broke serve in the opening game of the second set and stunned Nadal with a succession of venomous serves and pinpoint groundstrokes.
Nadal was powerless to stem the tide and was clearly upset by the 26-year-old Czech's aggressive style but the 11-times grand slam winner dug in to break serve at the start of the fourth set and repeated the feat to level at two sets all.
Officials decided to close the roof to enable the match to be finished and after a half-hour delay the players returned.
Most people expected Nadal to ease through the deciding set but Rosol had other ideas.
The Czech immediately broke serve and continued to subject the world number two to a barrage of big serves and outrageous winners, sealing victory with an ace to set up a third-round match against German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
It was the first time Nadal had lost before the third round of a grand slam since he was beaten by Gilles Mueller in the second round at Wimbledon in 2005.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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