Muller dumps Nadal out of Wimbledon in a five-set epic

David Lord Columnist

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    In the biggest boil-over at Wimbledon overnight, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller sent Spaniard Rafael Nadal packing 6-4 6-3 3-6 4-6 15-13 in just under five hours.

    In an epic battle between the coolest customer on the ATP Tour, who showed no sign of emotion until a big smile when he won, compared to the persistent histrionics of the Spaniard who, if he’s not fidgeting or pumping his fist, is yelling to celebrate a hard-won point.

    But how Muller, at 34 and after 17 years on tour, has only won two titles, both last year in Sydney and the Netherlands, could topple such a tall poppy with 14 Slams among 73 titles, is almost beyond belief.

    So how did this titanic tussle pan out?

    The first four sets are easy to describe for the two lefties.

    Muller won the first two with devastating serving, a forehand he either whipped down the line or across court, and a safe volley. Muller broke once in each set.

    Nadal won the third and fourth sets exactly the same way as Muller’s serve lost its potency.

    But the decider was something else, and it had the capacity 13,000-plus crowd around the number one court in raptures.

    Muller regained his serve and Nadal retained his for the two-plus hours of riveting tennis.

    If anyone was going to take out the fifth set, it always looked like Muller. Until the had the ultimate chances, and blew them.

    He had his first two match points at 5-4 and 15-40 on Nadal’s serve.

    Nadal, ever the fighter, aced, and Muller netted his return for deuce, and Nadal went on to save his serve.

    Muller was in big trouble in the 19th game when Nadal had four break points.

    Muller saved the first with a backhand winner, the second when Nadal netted his return, the third when Nadal struck a forehand long, and the fourth with an unplayable serve.

    Muller had a third match point in the 19th game at 10-9 and 30-40, but again Nadal survived with a forehand cross-court winner, only to be down another match point in the same game.

    But for some unfathomable reason, Muller, who was always playing sensible shots, went into a brain fade with four failed drop shots in two games that could so easily have cost him the match.

    What dumb tennis.

    But there was one more daft drop shot that failed in the 27th game, but fortunately for Muller it was the only point he lost on that serve.

    But at 14-13, it was the moment Gilles Muller had been waiting nearly five hours for to win.

    Muller raced to 15-40 before converting his fourth match point, and the biggest win of his long career was done and dusted.

    Then came the big smile – Muller’s only show of emotion all afternoon – with the capacity crowd on its feet in salute.

    Blessed with serving first in the decider, Muller always had the edge on Nadal who ended up serving ten times just to stay in the match.

    But the day belonged to Gilles Muller, for the biggest win of his career by a long shot.

    Next up in the quarters, Maron Cilic, who cruised through his round 6-2 6-2 6-2.

    Has Gilles Muller any shots left? We’ll find out on Wednesday night.

    Nadal Muller
    23 Aces 30
    2 Double-Faults 10
    69 First Serve Percentage 63
    77 Winners 95
    2/16 Break Points Converted 3/8
    198 Total points won 191
    3.65 Distance covered (km) 3.1815024
    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles