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Tennis • 10sBalls Shares Ricky’s Best ATP Matches Of 2017: No. 6 Is Muller vs. Nadal At Wimbledon

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg celebrates winning against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their fourth round match for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 10 July 2017. EPA/GERRY PENNY



Ricky’s best ATP matches of 2017: No. 6 is Muller vs. Nadal at Wimbledon


By Ricky Dimon

Over the next week, Ricky is counting down his top 10 men’s matches of the year, in order from No. 10 all the way down to No. 1. It continues at No. 6, with a Wimbledon marathon between Gilles Muller and Rafael Nadal. Muller pulled off a five-set upset to open up the path to the title for Roger Federer.


Wimbledon fourth round: Gilles Muller d. Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13

The second Monday at Wimbledon did not begin well for Nadal. While stretching in the tunnel in preparation for his round-of-16 showdown against Muller, the two-time champion jumped up and bumped his head on the ceiling.


The day ended even worse. After the bump was laughed off by both players–and fans–as a comical incident, what happened on the court was no laughing matter. Nadal’s hopes for a third career title at the All-England Club went up in smoke, as Muller survived a tension-filled five-setter after four hours and 47 minutes.


Although the upset was momentous, it perhaps did not come as a complete shock to many. After all, the big-serving Luxembourgian was already a well-respected force on grass. He had captured a grass-court title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch a few weeks earlier and had posted two runner-up performances on the green stuff in 2016 to go along with already one Wimbledon win over Nadal (2005). Of course, the latter result came long before the Spaniard twice lifted the Wimbledon trophy. This one crushed what were very real title hopes for the Spaniard.

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg during their fourth round match for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 10 July 2017. EPA/GERRY PENNY EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO COMMERCIAL SALES



This one was also far more difficult. Muller needed five sets–despite winning the first two with relative ease–and five match points in three different games before crossing the finish line. Just one break decided each of the five sets–even in the 28-game decider.


Both left-handers then had plenty of opportunities throughout the fifth. The No. 16 seed played from ahead thanks to serving first in the set, and he seed earned two match points when Nadal served at 4-5 and two more at 9-10. The Spaniard earned one break point of his own at 6-6 and a whole four at 9-9, but Muller came up with the goods on all five occasions.


It finally ended at 15-40 in the 28th game of the fifth, when Muller capitalized on his fifth match points as he watched a forehand by Nadal sail long.


“I haven’t really realized what just happened,” Muller said after clinching victory not long before darkness would have postponed play until Tuesday. “It’s a great feeling. I was thinking about if I had to come back next day to finish the match; I am just pleased to get it finished and be in the quarterfinals. I was two sets up, played really well, and then Rafa stepped it up. At the end it was just a big battle.


“(It’s) definitely the biggest win (of my career), I would say. I had a big (elbow) injury in 2013 and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back. I’ve played many great matches since then, but this is definitely the biggest victory since I came back–especially at this stage of a Grand Slam, playing one of the guys who is dominating tennis again this year.”


“It’s difficult to come back after being down two sets against a player like him,” Nadal reflected. “I think I did well. I had good chances in the fifth set, but he had more chances than me. So maybe he deserved it a little more than me.”


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

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