Saturday, June 22, 2013

Could Kubot be the next Rosol?

I don't need to remind you what happened in the second round of Wimbledon for Rafael Nadal last year as he lost to the No. 100 player in the world at the time Lukas Rosol. Now, in 2013 Nadal has a chance erase those memories (to some degree) as he returns to SW19 for the first time since one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. However, Nadal is in for another serious test when he takes Centre Court for his second match at the Wimbledon Championships. Most likely, Nadal will be facing Poland's Lukasz Kubot, who has more in common with Rosol than just his first name.

Kubot is ranked No. 126 in the world, but has had most of his success as a professional as a doubles partner. However, 31-year old Kubot did reach a career-best ranking of 41 just over three years ago. Like with Rosol in 2012, Nadal has never before played Kubot, who has an almost identical playing style to Rosol. He has a big two-handed backhand to go along with a powerful forehand and a serve that occasionally exceeds 130 miles per hour. But most importantly, his strokes are all very flat and quick. On grass, Kubot's strokes are deadly, because the ball stays low and fast on the grass.

Low and fast. Those are two things that Nadal hates. Because of his extreme grip, it is hard for the Spaniard to be aggressive against low fast shots. Even worse for Nadal is that this match is going to happen in the second round, which means the grass will still be fresh, slick, and fast. If the roof is up, it will be the perfect storm to beat Nadal.

Kubot is not unable to pull of big upsets at the third major of the year. In 2011, Kubot came through qualifying to knock out Arnaud Clement and big serving Ivo Karlovic, before upsetting the No. 8 player in the world, Gael Monfils. Then in the round of 16, Kubot led Lopez, two sets to love before losing the final three sets 6-7(7), 5-7, 5-7 in a match that lasted over four hours and had 55 combines aces

Kubot represents the worst possible second round match up Nadal could possibly have. A player, who Nadal has never played before that has powerful flat ground strokes on what the players like to call "virgin grass." Do not overlook this second round match as Nadal could become the first top ten seed to go down.

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