It might have been the best of times for Dustin "Dreddy" Brown and indeed the worst for Rafael Nadal. It was five years ago back at the Halle Open in Germany, the second round, that Brown had upset Nadal. The overconfidence might have taken over the 'King of Clay' for he had just finished winning his ninth French Open and it was the first round starting the grass season when he met up with Dustin Brown.
The Jamaican-German used his dynamic, sometimes unconventional strategies and strokes to break his opponents and many times win the match. "Difficult to talk about the match. I don't know what to say. I didn't play," was all Nadal could say as he was dejected and shocked at the same time.
But it happened again the next year. Brown did a repeat performance on Nadal only it was at Wimbledon with another second-round victory to come. Brown qualified for the 2015 championships, which he won without dropping a set.
He would win the first round but was surprised when his next opponent for the second round was the 10th seed, Rafael Nadal. They had battled it out in four sets. Brown was devious with his unconventional punts and uncanny shots.
He played aggressive and consistent to pour on his acrobatic tennis strategies to win over the Spaniard 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. He was astonished and glad he had broken the 'master of clay' I'm happy that I got to play him on this court, win or lose...my luck I wouldn't want to play him on clay or hard court...I'm happy that I held it together for the whole match..."
Brown believed that he'd be able to create another upset and three times was the charm. It was on his favourite surface, grass but now a different opponent, this time Alexander Zverev at Stuttgart, Germany, the Mercedes Cup.
Zverev hadn't been a great success lately and was just trying to stay consistent with wins, getting himself together again mentally to win back to back matches. He might have played things too conservative but Brown he had hit some amazing, unbelievable shots to defeat Zverev 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, to move onto the quarterfinals at the Stuttgart Open.
Next Dustin Brown faced the young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime no. 21 ranked but had a bunch of tennis weapons he knew how to use. Brown was on a roll now with a high level of confidence after years ago defeating Nadal and now Alexander Zverev.
The Canadian had just withdrawn from the French Open with a groin/adductor injury and Dustin Brown had thought that he would have an advantage coming out successful in this run. But he was faced with many challenges from the Canadian who was 16 years younger than himself.
It was on grass which Brown knew would be a positive on his side and he came on court quite confident. The two had battled and Brown trailed then pulled the opening set to a tiebreak. Auger-Aliassime's serve was spot on and Brown's ability to make his mark fell short giving the winning opening set to the Canadian.
Brown had broke Auger-Aliassime at 3-2 in the second set but the two kept levelling off the games till Brown's aggression turned into his lead of 5-4. Diligence and precision prevailed on both to pull a second set tiebreak.
Brown was clever with a tip in volleys and down the lines and won the second tiebreak. Brown was too clever with a tip in volleys and down the lines and won the second tiebreak. The level of play stayed complimentary but as the Jamaican-German led 3-2 and slipped to send the game in his favour of 4-2 during the break, the Canadian appeared to be in physical distress and put his towel over his head to disguise the discomfort.
The pain was temporary and the two fought hard sending the match into a third tiebreak. Brown had the advantage and even went to 5 games but the Canadian didn't want to lose since he had withdrawn from the French Open recently.
He fought and when it came down to the match points, Brown was shaken and netted too many balls and sending others out of bounds. Felix Auger-Aliassime held his arms up in relief to have been the mentally stronger and precise one to win the match 7-6, 6-7, 7-6.
He later said "..The third set he was almost better than me...yeah a lot of emotions out here. So a victory was had for the Canadian on the surface that from the start was pleasant and complimentary to his style of game.