As has happened so often to those who have upset Rafael Nadal’s ambitions in recent years at Wimbledon, the next step forward turns out to be onto a trapdoor. And so it proved for Dustin Brown, the dreadlocked qualifier from Germany.
Despite an attacking performance which veered between brave and foolhardy, he was out served and out-thought by Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, the 22nd seed, 6-4, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours 18 minutes on No.2 Court.
In the early stages it unnerved Troicki, especially when one Brown drop shot carried so much backspin that it bounced back over the net.
WATCH An outrageous drop shot from Dustin Brown on Day 6. Backspin galore! #Wimbledonhttps://t.co/b5qPAelv1q
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2015
But the Serb is an experienced performer at Grand Slam level and it didn’t take him long to work out an effective counter.
On serve he was dominant; when receiving, he frequently left the onrushing Brown flailing in mid-court or trapped at the net.
Troicki has been in rich form in the grass court run-up to The Championships, having been a finalist at Stuttgart, where he lost to Nadal, and a semi-finalist at Queen’s Club. A coruscating serve is what has propelled that success and it was in explosive evidence against Brown. There were 24 aces, many of them at crucial moments, and none more so than in the second set tie-break when, as Brown pointed out ruefully, he struck four aces and a service winner.
Brown’s tactic, one which had served him so spectacularly in the second round against Nadal, was to close in on the net.
“If it was 30-all he had either an ace or a good serve that I didn’t get back,” said Brown. “He didn’t give me any chances. All credit to Vik. He served too well for me today.”