Rafael Nadal: Loss to Lukas Rosol Proves Talent Gap on Grass Is Closing

Sam R. Quinn@SamQuinn_Senior Analyst IIIJune 28, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Rafael Nadal of Spain walks off the court after being defeated by Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic during their Gentlemen's Singles second round match on day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

If someone asked you who Rafael Nadal would lose to at the 2012 rendition of Wimbledon, your answer most definitely would not have been Lukas Rosol.

Yet, the 26-year-old Czech Republic native knocked out the great Rafa in the second round at the All England Club, 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

For Nadal, this was the earliest he was bounced from a Grand Slam since 2005 at this same competition. For Rosol, the 100th-ranked player in the world, this was the most stunning victory we have seen in some time.

Nadal's second-round failure not only shows that he had a bad day, but also that the talent gap on grass between Rafa and his competitors is closing.

The 26-year-old Spaniard has always been known as the "King of Clay," but he always proved his worth on grass. He had a tougher time on the surface, but he was consistently able to notch convincing victories over quality opponents.

That was not the case against Rosol, who had lost 11-of-24 matches heading into his bout with Nadal. Rosol dominated Nadal all day with his power serve, forcing Rafa to play deep, which caused for a lack of offensive shots.

This result wasn't caused by Nadal's poor play. He committed just 16 unforced errors, but was unable to advance to the third round. Nadal wasn't at his best, but he certainly wasn't at his worst, which brings up the point that he may not be so far ahead of the rest of the field.

He obviously has a hard time with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on grass, but to lose to the No. 100 player in the world in the second round of a major championship should be quite concerning for Nadal. The excuse that the switch from clay to grass makes it difficult is not good enough.

Nadal's failure on grass has occurred in back-to-back tournaments, a trend that Rafa hopes will not continue his next time on the surface. At the Gerry Weber Open, Nadal was bounced by Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-3.

Grass has never been Nadal's strong suit, as anyone who doesn't live under a rock knows, but he still needs to consistently win on the surface to remain at the top of the world.

Nadal is still the best player on the planet next to Djokovic, but the rest of the field is catching up to him on grass.