Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal made an early exit from the tournament for the fourth year running on Thursday, July 2 . On each of the four occasions, the Spaniard has lost to a player ranked outside the top 100. This time, he lost 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-4 in the second round to 102-ranked German qualifier Dustin Brown who played the match of his life.

Dustin Brown of Germany celebrates after winning his match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London

Meanwhile, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Petra Kvitova all cruised into the third round with straight-sets victories. Everything seemed to go according to script until the final match on Centre Court when Brown, a man until now best known for his unconventional approach and dread-locks, brought back memories of the golden summer Wimbledon evenings of wooden rackets as he combined relentless power with brave and ambitious creativity.

Brown came out swinging and even when Nadal dug deep to level the match at one-set all he did not hold back, going for his shots and harrying his illustrious opponent at every opportunity. Along with the power, there was finesse which had the Centre Court crowd roaring their approval and Brown rattled through the final set to secure a fully deserved victory.

Dustin Brown of Germany shakes hands with Rafael Nadal of Spain after winning their match

“You have to play your A game against him,” said Brown, who also beat Nadal in their only previous meeting in Halle last year. “I’m fortunate I played him twice on grass, which is my favourite surface – I wouldn’t want to play him anywhere else. My game makes him not play his game. He doesn’t get in a rhythm.”

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during the match

“My motivation is to be back to that level but I don’t know if I can,” 10th seed Nadal said. “But I’ve played on the last day here five days and had the trophy back home twice, so it’s not bad.”