Three days after winning the French Open, Rafael Nadal learned the hard way what he needs to do to succeed at Wimbledon.
German wild card Alexander Waske upset the 19-year-old Spaniard 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Gerry Weber Open -- a key warmup for Wimbledon -- to snap Nadal's 24-match winning streak.
All those wins came on clay, and on Wednesday his serve wasn't powerful enough on the faster surface of grass.
"I belong to those people who want to learn when things don't go well," Nadal said. "I will go to Wimbledon five days early and work on my serve."
Nadal complained of fatigue, plus a mild thigh strain and blistered finger.
"I'm tired -- I need two or three days off," said Nadal. "My fitness is not the best. When I go to the net I am too slow. My fitness is a big part of my game."
The match turned in the 147th-ranked Waske's favor when the third-seeded Nadal netted two drop shots to fall behind 6-5 in the second set, losing his serve for the first time.
"I played a horrible game," Nadal said. "I started well, but it is hard to concentrate after so many matches at the French."
Cheered on by 9,000 spectators, Waske -- known as a doubles specialist -- received a standing ovation when he volleyed into the open court to close out the two-hour match.
Nadal, who had trouble with the trajectory of his strokes and over-relied on topspin, still expects to do well at Wimbledon.
"My confidence didn't just come from the French. I won five titles before that -- I've played good all year," he said.
He has played just one previous tournament on grass as a pro -- reaching the third round of Wimbledon two years ago. Last year, his grass-court season was wiped out by an ankle injury.
Australian Open champion Marat Safin saved a match point before advancing when Fabrice Santoro retired with a left thigh injury in the third set. The second-seeded Russian led 3-6, 7-6 (7), 3-2.
Safin, who had lost seven of his previous eight matches against Santoro, erased the match point with Santoro up 6-5 in the second-set tiebreaker.
Safin won only his second match on grass in three years while fighting a knee injury that has bothered him for two months.
Also, Olivier Rochus defeated eighth-seeded Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (2), 6-3.
Defending champion Andy Roddick easily beat Australia's Mark Philippoussis 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round of the Queen's grass-court tournament.
Philippoussis opened with three straight aces, but the second-seeded American responded with 10 aces, including one that was clocked at 243kph. Roddick holds the world record for fastest serve at 249kph.
"I wasn't super-comfortable with the draw," Roddick said. "But I felt I played about as well as I could have asked for in the first match."
Roddick, who won the Wimbledon warmup in 2003 and last year, took a 3-2 lead after breaking the 1997 champion at love. A strong return then forced a backhand error to give Roddick a second break.
In a match of short rallies, Philippoussis failed to gain a point on Roddick's serve in the second set as the American once more forced a backhand error with a big return to get the only break at 3-3.
"I felt like I lifted my percentages a lot in the second set and was putting a lot of first serves in," Roddick said. "That put the onus on him to try to figure something out."
Also, Mario Ancic, the last player to defeat Roger Federer on grass in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2002, earned a comfortable 6-4, 6-4 win over Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic.
The young Croatian next plays 18-year-old Richard Gasquet of France, who ousted Britain's Jamie Delgado 6-4, 6-1.
Big-serving Max Mirnyi of Belarus set up a third round clash with former champion and top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt. Mirnyi topped Italy's Davide Sanguinetti 6-4, 6-3.
American wild card James Blake also advanced, overcoming Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-2, 6-4 to earn a meeting with Sebastien Grosjean of France.
As they celebrated Naomi Osaka’s victory in the final of the US Open in New York City’s Flushing Meadows on Saturday, Tokyoites were eager to embrace their heroines’ stand against racial injustice. Osaka, who won her third Grand Slam title with a victory over Victoria Azarenka, has used her platform to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, wearing a mask bearing the name of a different African American before each of her seven matches in the championship. She had donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile. On Saturday, she walked
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
THOROUGH THRASHING: Hualien City beat Taichung Blue Whale 2-1, ending their three-year winning streak with one round of matches left and eight points to spare Hualien City on Saturday clinched this year’s Taiwan Mulan Football League title with one game to spare, by beating Taichung Blue Whale 2-1 at Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City. Hualien City have scored 38 points this season. Blue Whale are second on the scoreboard with 30 points, while Taipei Bravo are third with 23 points. One final round of matches is to be played on Saturday. It is the fourth league trophy for Hualien City, and ends Blue Whale’s three-year winning streak. Hualien had won the title from 2014 to 2016. Both teams defended well, leaving few chances in front
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7