Rafael Nadal beaten in opening round of ATP event in Germany
French Open champion loses to world No. 85 Dustin Brown
Andy Murray loses at London's Queen's Club
Defending champion beaten in straight sets by Radek Stepanek
Rafael Nadal, the man who stood on top of the tennis world after winning his ninth French Open title last weekend, was brought back to earth with a bump Thursday.
The world No.1, so dominant on the clay at Roland Garros, was beaten in the first round of the ATP grass-court event in Halle, Germany, by a player ranked 84 places below him.
German Dustin Brown required less than an hour to win 6-4 6-1 on the grass to send Nadal crashing out of the tournament.
The Spaniard, playing his first match on grass since he was stunned in the opening game of last year’s Wimbledon, appeared to struggle with the transition.
At Wimbledon 12 months ago, Nadal was beaten by Czech Lukas Rosol who was ranked 100 at the time in a five-set thriller.
And any hopes he would be given the chance to warmup for a return to SW19 were given short shrift by home favorite Brown.
Brown had only ever beaten one top-10 player, John Isner, and this result ranks as his best yet.
Nadal wasn’t the only star to falter Thursday – Andy Murray, who is set to start the defense of his Wimbledon title later this month, was beaten at Queen’s Club in London.
Murray was beaten by veteran Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6 6-2 in his second match since appointing former women’s No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.
The 27-year-old, who won the Queens title in 2009, 2011 and 2013, had won his past 19 matches on grass.
“I have only got myself to blame that I lost the first set,” the Scot told the ATP website.
“I don’t know how many set points I had, but quite a lot of them were on my serve.
“On this surface especially you shouldn’t really be losing sets like that. For me, that’s what’s disappointing really about the match. Then, unfortunately, got broken in the first game of the second set. I couldn’t quite get it back.”
The 35-year-old Stepanek’s reward is a quarterfinal clash with South African Kevin Anderson.
Meanwhile, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer survived a scare in Halle before booking his place in the quarterfinals with a 6-7 6-4 6-2 win over Joao Sousa.
The Swiss ace, who has won this tournament on six occasions, will face Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu for a place in the semifinals.
“It was slightly frustrating at times clearly, but nevertheless I served well and kept on doing my thing,” said fourth-ranked Federer, who lost in the last 16 at Roland Garros.
“It was important to stay calm and actually I think it gives me more confidence winning this way.
“I had to stay calm, fight through the match and find a way and then the last set and a half were much better. So, I’m actually pretty happy now.”