Rafael Nadal bangs his head in Wimbledon tunnel before losing first set

Rafael Nadal bangs his head in Wimbledon tunnel before losing first set”

Only when his fourth-round match against 16th-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg stretched past 4 1/2 hours, the sunlight fading, did Nadal blink.

His second round appearance at the All England Club past year was barely noticed, understandably for a player who had made the last eight at a grand slam event just once in his career - at the U.S. Open in 2008.

On Monday though, the left-hander produced one of the most memorable upsets in the history of Wimbledon - beating 15-times grand slam victor Rafa Nadal in an astonishing 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 15-13 battle that lasted four hours and 48 minutes.

Rafael Nadal has not taken many blows this year but the legendary Spaniard suffered two in quick succession at Wimbledon on Monday.

Nadal drew on all his experience to draw level, only to find himself facing two match points at 4-5 in the decider against an equally resolute opponent.

"I remember when I first played on grass, it was at a junior invitational tournament at (London's) Queen's Club", Muller told Reuters.

Hours earlier came what might be interpreted as a bad omen for Nadal: Going through his prematch rituals on the way to the court, he jumped up so high that he banged his head on the doorway's transom. "Maybe still a little bit feeling dizzy".

"This is definitely the biggest victory since then, since I came back, especially at that stage of a grand slam, playing one of the guys who is dominating the tennis this year again".

Two big first serves, and two aces, averted that particular crisis but Muller was still serving the better of the two.

So they headed to a fifth set, which was masterful, filled with brilliance from both. He is looking good and injury free.

The French Open champion had not dropped any of his last 28 sets in grand slams, but Muller took the first two off him.

"It was not easy", Muller said, "to keep believing".

By beating Nadal, the left-hander is now just one game away from a potential semi-final meeting with Andy Murray and that would bring about a reunion.

"When you are in the fifth, against a player like him, (the outcome) just depends on a few balls", Nadal said.

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