The second Monday of Wimbledon is one of the best days of the tournament. The first Sunday is traditionally used as a day of rest, barring rain or other postponements. So the following day, all 16 fourth-round singles matches are played: "Manic Monday."
This year, no one was more manic than Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard fell in one of the best -- and longest -- matches of the tournament so far, losing to veteran Gilles Müller 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 in four hours and 48 minutes. It was a stunning loss by Nadal considering how well he's played this year, including a French Open title. But the fact that this loss seems reasonable compared to his past Wimbledon falls can be seen itself as the most minor of victories.
Despite the success Nadal had at the All England Club early in his career, Wimbledon simply isn't his event. This was only the second time since 2012 that he made it to the fourth round. And he's failed to make it to the quarterfinals for the past six years. In 2015, people were earnestly asking him questions about retirement in the wake of his defeat at the hands of Dustin Brown.
Nadal's experienced the indignity of being knocked out by a player outside the top 100 four times. Losing to Gilles -- who's ranked No. 26 in the world -- ain't that. During the match, Nadal showed the emotion that made him a fan favorite years ago, and he almost pulled off an amazing comeback from an incredibly tough spot.
It was clear from the onset that Nadal was outgunned against Müller. The Luxemburger has a huge lefty serve, and Nadal spent the first two sets trying to figure out the best way to combat it. But down two sets and with his back against the wall, Nadal's typical fiery self came out, as he battled back with some amazing volleys.
But as amazing as the first four sets were, the fifth set alone could stand by itself as the match of the year. It lasted over two hours, with each competitor fighting to tooth and nail to stay alive, and barely doing so the whole time.
Unfortunately for Nadal, Müller's powerful serve was built for a long match on grass. As fatigue mounted in both players, Müller -- who is 11-1 on grass this year -- had more left in his arm, and eventually Nadal succumbed to the inevitable. He wasn't sharp enough on break points on the day, converting just two of 16, including zero of five in the final set, which was his ultimate undoing.
"When you are in the fifth, against a player like him, [the outcome] just depends on a few balls," Nadal said after the match.
Although this loss threatens to bring the "Nadal has lost it" narrative roaring back, that's a bit narrow-sighted. He may not be able to play at the level of best grass players in the world, but he does already have two Wimbledon titles in his trophy case, something most players only dream of. He made it to the Australian Open final earlier this year and lost to Roger Federer in five sets. He won his tenth French Open, as well as a few other tournaments. Nadal, at age 31, is objectively having a good season. Most importantly, he's showing no signs of ill signs of lingering knee or wrist injuries, which have hampered his career over the past two seasons
Nadal didn't lose to the 100th-best player in the world on Monday. He showed his trademark fire and determination and made a stunning comeback in a marathon five-set instant classic that came up just short thanks to the monster serve of a good grass player.
There were questions after other Wimbledon losses if we've seen the last of Nadal at his best. There should be no such questions right now.
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Cy Brown writes about soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.