Nadal bows out after Wimbledon epic

"It is more hard when you play against a player like him that you don't have a lot of rhythm", said Nadal, who was undone by Muller at Wimbledon 12 years ago.

Muller had a third match point in the 19th game at 10-9 and 30-40, but again Nadal survived with a forehand cross-court victor, only to be down another match point in the same game. He beat Mario Ancic and Lee Childs before losing to #12 seed, Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in straight sets. The remarkable Nadal could not break down the old-fashioned serve and volley tennis of his opposing left-hander.

But how Muller, at 34 and after 17 years on tour, has only won two titles, both last year in Sydney and the Netherlands, could topple such a tall poppy with 14 Slams among 73 titles, is nearly beyond belief. Nadal famously lost to Lukas Rosol in a thrilling five-setter.

That's right, the final set required 138 total games. Defending champion Murray is the only member of the foursome who hasn't won every set he's played in the tournament: Against Fabio Fognini in the third round, he ceded one and saved five set points to barely avoid losing another. He was unconvincing in his three victories, including one over Rosol, needing 4 sets in each one.

The great retriever Caroline Wozniacki knows that all too well, having lost all three of their meetings, while fourth seed Elina Svitolina only offered up 14 winners in their Monday meeting. Brown beat Nadal in four sets, a year after beating him at Halle, also on grass.

All the more surprising considering there is not a single grass court in Luxembourg, and 16th seed Muller admits he had not a clue how to play on the surface when he first encountered it. Muller cruised through the first two sets, getting an early break in the first and a late break in the second to put Nadal in a deep hole.

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"I think Jo has done - it's not just about this tournament, but over the last 18 months, two years, has done great", Murray said. The No. 16 seed has defeated two-time Wimbledon champ and No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13.

In a Wimbledon in which all the "Big Four" had reached the second week, it was Muller who, with enough precision and plenty of aggression in the fifth set, broke the hegemony of the "Big Four" (Nadal, Roger Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray). "I played with all my passion and the crowd normally appreciates that", the ATP website quoted Nadal as saying after the match. This would have given the chance for Mannarino and Djokovic to finish their match, and move into the quarterfinals, rather than denying them the days rest that their competitors will receive tomorrow.

But the in-form Spaniard, who had taken the season by storm to top the Race for London-and he has already qualified for the World Tour Finals-and to challenge for the No1 ranking during Wimbledon, could not survive the fifth. He will next face Muller.

Cilic has won all four of his matches in straight sets and will take on Muller following a 6-2 6-2 6-2 success over Roberto Bautista Agut. "So maybe he deserve it a little more than me".

In extraordinary scenes, the chair umpire even asked fans in the back row of the arena to stand up to shield a reflection from the setting sun that was bothering Nadal as he went to serve to stay in the match at 10-11. "Whereas with Rafa's confidence, I thought he was also going to be there", said Federer, who has a cold.

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