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Nadal-slayer Dustin Brown: the perfect antithesis of the Wimbledon gent

Suyash Upadhyaya | Updated on: 4 July 2015, 18:08 IST

Confidence, thy name is Dustin Brown. Moments after he defeated Rafael Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round at Wimbledon on Centre Court, the dreadlocked German remarked "I know I can really play well on this (grasscourt), I'm looking forward to the next match."

The world often disdains overconfidence, but in Brown's case, he seems to have earned it. This is the second time he's pulled one over Nadal, the first being at the Gerry Weber Open last year. That should give anyone enough confidence in his ability to beat any player in the world.

In sharp contrast to the stiff conventions of the most prestigious tennis event in the world - both written and unwritten - Centre Court was exposed to a completely different sensibility.

An anomaly on Centre Court

The Wimbledon crowd adores the prim and proper gentleman - think Roger Federer - but Brown is the complete antithesis of that ideal, an anomaly in everything from the way he carries himself to his journey in tennis. If hipsters had to pick their favourite tennis player, they would pick him.

Born to a Jamaican father and a German mother, he lived in Germany till 1996 before his family moved to the sunny isles of Jamaica, where his tennis career started. However, the realisation came in 2004 that to further his career, he would have to move back to the far superior tennis infrastructure in Germany, despite having played for the Jamaican Davis Cup team.

Brown's look includes dreadlocks, a green tooth, a tongue piercing and his dad's face tattooed on his stomach

Not earning enough money playing in the lowest level of professional tennis (the ITF) in Europe, his parents bought him a camper van to minimise his own costs of competing, which he would use to drive himself all over the continent playing in various tournaments. He slept in it, cooked in it, and even gave out beds on rent to other players.

From that to producing a massive upset 11 years later, the victory has proved the adage that hard work trumps talent, especially when talent struggles to work hard.

Unorthodox brand of tennis

During the match, Nadal had no answer to the flurry of shots being unleashed on him by Brown. Looking severely short on confidence, the 14-time Grand Slam champion's legs moved sluggishly as Brown played a fearless and unorthodox brand of tennis.

It was almost as unorthodox as his appearance, which includes a green tooth, a tongue piercing, a large tattoo of his father's face on the side of his stomach, and a mop of hair that hasn't seen a barber in the last 19 years.

He is officially German now, after switching nationalities in 2010, but he very well could have represented Great Britain at the Davis Cup. He considered British citizenship, since his paternal grandparents hailed from there, qualifying him for it. But he decided against it.

For the time being, he is back in Britain, making people stand up and take notice of his performances. Only time will tell whether he is a flash in the pan or someone whom top players around the world have to start taking seriously.

But having never gone higher than 78 in the ATP rankings, this Wimbledon could prove his best chance at improving on his current ranking of 102.

At 30 years of age, Brown may not have many peak years left on the tennis circuit. But it could just be the sign of a late bloomer - after all, beating Nadal to start off the business end of one's career won't be too shabby now, would it?

First published: 4 July 2015, 18:08 IST
Suyash Upadhyaya @SuyashU

A believer of the Indian football dream and an ardent cricket fan who likes to explore the nuanced side of all sports, Suyash finds creative expression in sports writing. Lover of literature, Liverpool FC, and an earnest economics enthusiast, he has just joined Catch News after completing his post graduation at Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai. When not staying up the whole night watching football, he loves spending time playing the sport itself, reading, and generally wondering when he'll decipher everything about the world around him.