That things won’t be easy on Thursday for Rafael Nadal becomes clear after the first shots are hit by both players. Dustin Brown is not feeling intimidated, nor he plans on leaving the initiative to the Spaniard.
The German has already beaten Nadal on grass, last year in Halle 6-4 6-1. Dustin knows he can do it again.
Nadal is the first player to break, to take a 2-1 lead and then 3-1.
Brown breaks back in the 6th game, closing the game with a winner smash, after an effective forehand progression. Starting aggressive, tacking the net, Brown breaks first on 5-5 and wins the first set 7 games to 5. Nadal is called to play better, more aggressive, more confident if he doesn’t want to close his run at Wimbledon at the Round of 64 for the third time in his career, the most recent being against Lukas Rosol in 2012.
The two-time Wimbledon champion awakes in the second set. Nadal breaks first, in the third game of the second set to lead 2-1. The Spaniard can’t be aggressive on his return, but manages to keep his first-serve percentages up to take the second set 6 games to 3.
The rallies are entertaining, the two rarely exchange from the baseline. Brown hits less precisely, more unforced errors coming off his racket. Nadal takes advantage of the situation. It seems a turning point in the match, but things suddenly change again in the following set.
Brown breaks in the 5th game of the third set, attacking Nadal’s serve and closing the point at the net with a superb volley. McEnroe keeps repeating how Nadal doesn’t look confident in his shot making, in his ability to defend his serve.
Still on the attacking mode, Brown holds serve and leads 4-2, confirming the break. Troubles don’t end for the Spaniard who faces another break point on his serve as Brown fires a stunning return with his forehand cross-court.
Rafa saves and screams in relief. With the German hardly giving a ball away though, Nadal is forced to save another break point before he can hold serve and trail back 3-4, winning the point valid for the game running on a drop shot and hitting let with his forehand recovery.