He's beaten Nadal once, and Luxembourg's Gilles Muller may get another chance, progressing to the main draw as the final slots fill up on the last day of qualifying.
A 6ft 4in lefty who once serve-volleyed his way past Rafael Nadal on Wimbledon’s turf, Luxembourg’s Muller is a dangerous floater when the time comes for pulling names out of a hat for a main draw.
With three matches of qualifying under his belt and an indication that he is again ready to cause some damage on a big stage, his is a name players will be keen to dodge at SW19 next week.
A slew of injuries robbed the 31-year-old of almost the entire past year, but after his 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) final-round qualifying triumph over Spain's Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, he was through to his seventh Wimbledon main draw.
“I didn’t expect to be at that level that I am right now. When I started at the beginning of the year I was out for seven months with a pretty bad elbow injury so I had a lot of doubts if I would come back and how it would feel. To be where I am right now, I’m pretty happy with it,” Muller said.
“I like grass, but you have such a short time to get used to it so if you don’t feel comfortable right away it can also be tough because it’s not a surface where you can put the ball back and try to get in the rally. When you feel comfortable it feels pretty fun.”
In 2005 he claimed the scalp of Andre Agassi in a tour event in Washington and created two huge upsets in Grand Slam play. He sent newly-crowned Roland Garros champion Nadal packing in the second round at Wimbledon – granted the Spaniard was 19 and still finding his feet on the grass – and then-world No.3 Andy Roddick in the first round at the US Open.
“That’s a long time ago, huh,” he laughed.
“Especially in a Grand Slam, to beat a guy like Nadal is a pretty big win. It’s a very long time ago and I’d be happy to get a chance to play one of these top guys this year. I’m feeling pretty good and confident again so why not again this year?”
On Thursday, his swinging lefty serve was on song. He jumped to 3-0 in the third-set tiebreak with an ace before placing a backhand slice lob over the Spaniard’s head for 4-1.
A further ace brought him to 5-2 before a backhand winner down the line delivered four match points. He took it on his second when Menendez-Maceiras was forced long.
Elsewhere, Junior Wimbledon 2011 Champion Luke Saville led an Australian charge through qualifying, with three of the four contesting the final round progressing.
After quickly dropping the first four games of his match against Swiss Yann Marti, 20-year-old Saville conceded the opener 6-2 before taking a lengthy injury timeout for what appeared to be a back complaint.
Having taken down top seed Thomaz Bellucci in the first round of qualifying, Saville survived match point in the fourth-set tie-break and recovered from a break down in the fifth to seal his debut Wimbledon main draw berth 8-6 after nearly four-and-a-half hours.
His countryman James Duckworth earlier qualified for the second year running with a straight-sets result over Austrian Martin Fischer, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4. Duckworth carried his momentum on the grass from Queen’s last week, where he had won through three rounds of qualifying and a main draw win before pushing world No.6 Tomas Berdych to three sets.
The world’s fastest server Sam Groth was the third Aussie through, reaching his maiden Wimbledon main draw with an upset of Italian former world No.36 Simone Bolelli 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, however Alex Bolt narrowly failed to make it four from four for the green and gold, bowing to world No.214 Konstantin Krachuk 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4; the Russian reaching his first Grand Slam main draw at 29.
And if ever there were a gong for persistence, it would have to go to Yuichi Sugita, the Japanese player qualifying for his first major in his 18th attempt since 2009, with a 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Swiss Marco Chiudinelli.
German Tim Puetz was another through to his first Grand Slam main draw after ousting Junior Wimbledon 2010 Champion Marton Fucsovics 7-6(3), 7-6(16), 6-1, while Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan upset Tunisian No.7 seed Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
Of the five Americans who started the day, three would reach the main draw.
Alex Kuznetsov won an all-US battle with No.3 seed Tim Smyczek 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, while their former top-50 countryman Ryan Harrison defeated German Daniel Brands 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-3. No.9 seed Denis Kudla put out Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, while Czech Jan Hernych defeated the last remaining American, Rajeev Ram, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2.
Croatian Ante Pavic progressed in four; a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4 winner over French 37-year-old Marc Gicquel.
Chinese Taipei’s Jimmy Wang, who reached the second round at Wimbledon last year, recovered from dropping the first set to end Canadian Frank Dancevic’s chances 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert ended Slovakian Miloslav Mecir’s hopes of emulating his dad’s Wimbledon 1988 semi-final run, falling in the final round of qualifying 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
In the final match of the day, Lithuanian Ricardis Berankis let a two-sets-to-love lead, a 5-3 fourth-set lead and a match point slip before relinquishing the last 10 games of the match to Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-0.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all