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Rafael Nadal has been surprisingly accustomed to early exits at Wimbledon in recent years. Dustin Brown, on the other, has thrived in those situations.

Both players will be back on display during second-round action at the All-England Club on Wednesday, but this time they are not required to go head-to-head. That’s what they did in the second round of this event in 2015, when Brown pulled off a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 upset.

The swashbuckling German reached the third round on one other occasion in his previous four appearances, also taking out Lleyton Hewitt in 2013. Brown also came within a set of advancing to round three last summer but lost a five-setter to Nick Kyrgios.

Now, Brown gets one of the toughest Wimbledon opponents of all in world No. 1 and defending champion Andy Murray. The 32-year-old earned a place in that mouth-watering matchup by coming back from a set and a break down to defeat Joao Sousa in four sets, while Murray cruised past lucky loser Alexander Bublik on Monday.

“He plays a similar way (compared to Bublik) in terms of being pretty unpredictable–going for different shots,” Murray said of his upcoming foe. “A lot of power. Certainly to watch, for anyone watching, he tends to come out with some great shots. Very entertaining guy to watch. He’s a great mover. Really, really good athlete. He’s a good personality, as well. Always fun, fun guy to watch. I expect him to be very aggressive. I think he’ll go for his shots. I think he’ll come forward a lot. You know he’s going to go for it…. Sometimes he hits two first serves; goes for a huge second serve. It’s not easy to play players like that. He’s obviously had a big win here in the past against Rafa.”

“It’s an honor playing against him,” Brown said of Murray. “I think last time we played was U.S. Open 2010. He won in three sets. We’ll see what happens out there this time.”

Will this time be different?

“Seven years and it wasn’t grass,” Brown commented with a smile.

It’s been seven years since Nadal last triumphed at Wimbledon and six years since he last reached the title match. In his four appearances at the All-England Club preceding this one, Nadal compiled a disappointing 5-4 record with losses to Brown (second round), Lukas Rosol (second round), Steve Darcis (first round), and Nick Kyrgios (fourth round).
“[I’m] happy because I didn’t win a lot of matches last couple of years here in Wimbledon,” Nadal admitted following his 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 blowout of John Millman in this summer’s first round.

Can the reigning French Open champion avoid the second-round upset bug in his first trip to the All-England Club since 2015? Nadal, who skipped last year’s festivities because of a wrist problem, has a date with fellow lefty Donald Young on Wednesday. Young is 18-12 this season and is coming off consecutive grass-court quarterfinal performances at Queen’s Club and in Eastbourne.

“He’s an aggressive player,” Nadal said of Young. “He’s a player that plays quick; hits the ball so quick. Sometimes he’s able to play at a very, very high level.”

Young may have to play at a level even better than “very, very high” if he wants to shock Nadal. After all, this is a world No. 2 who is simply no longer as vulnerable as he was at Wimbledon from 2012 through 2015. As his 44-6 record in 2017 suggests, the Spaniard is armed with a clean bill of health. And he is also stomping around on grass courts that Brown has argued are playing even slower than the red clay of Roland Garros.

But Nadal certainly isn’t buying that.

“(It) is obvious that if we compare the speed of playing here or playing [at] Roland Garros, [it] is not a discussion. “(It) is stupid talking about that because (it) is obvious that (the French Open vs. Wimbledon) is completely different sport.”

So different that Brown has a chance to beat Murray and Young has a legitimate shot at Nadal? We’ll see.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.