Dustin Brown, the lowly ranked German tennis player caused a major upset at the Wimbledon on Thursday when he knocked out former world’s number one tennis star and two-time Wimbledon champion, Rafael Nadal.
Brown beat Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4,6-4 in a tension-soaked second round match played inside capacity crowd Wimbledon’s Centre Court, producing an awesome performance that he later described as “the best day of my life so far.”
Below are certain facts about the mystery player that stunned one of the most celebrated tennis stars of this age:
Dustin Brown was born in Celle, West Germany, on December 8 1984 to Inge, a Jamaican man and Leroy, a German woman. He grew up in both countries, as he spent his early childhood in Germany before moving to his father’s birth country, Jamaica, in 1996 at the age of 12. It was in Jamaica that he learned how to play tennis and played for Jamaica’s Davis Cup team.
That he moved around Centre Court with a languid Caribbean air, but fired the ball with frighteningly Teutonic power and precision is probably only coincidence. “I am the way I am,” he said. “I’ve been like this all my life.”
While growing up in Celle, Brown played handball and football as well as judo and tennis but decided at the age of eight to concentrate solely on tennis. When he moved to Montego Bay with his parents, he started again on public courts, moving up through the juniors until he joined the Futures circuit in 2010.
Brown has not cut his hair since 1996 that he travelled to Jamaica, his father’s ancestral home. He has been carrying his trademark dreadlocks for 19 years as a mark of respect to his Jamaican heritage.
Brown has reportedly faced prejudice both as a boy and a man at home in Germany still sometimes finding it difficult to get into bars and clubs. “Sure, I stood out…there were a lot of problems when I was younger, both at school and in the tennis world. Mostly, it’s fine, I’ve got used to it, but even nowadays it can be a problem. If you’re with one guy it doesn’t matter so much, you go somewhere else, but if there are six or seven of you, and none of them can get in because of one guy – and that guy always tends to be me – it kind of takes the fun out of the whole thing,” Brown disclosed last year in an interview with The Observer.
Camper van “saved” his career
After Brown returned to Europe in 2004, his parents bought him a VolksWagen camper van so he could compete in Futures games and minimise costs. He told the Observer in 2010 that as money was tight during that time “it [enabled him] to have enough money to play the next tournament. That pretty much saved my career.” “It was a bit of an adventure,” he said.
It took them six years to pay off and the week after they made the final HP payment in 2010, Brown cracked the top 100 for the first time. The personalised number plate he chose was ‘CE DI 100’ which was a message for himself: “CE” for his birthplace, Celle; “D” for Dustin, “I” for Inge, his father and 100 for his goal of breaking into the top 100 tennis ranking.
Failed bid to play for Britain
As Brown’s paternal grandmother is British, he tried to represent the UK after he fell out with Tennis Jamaica in 2010. However, the Lawn Tennis Association did not accept his offer and he instead played for Germany.
“The train has passed,” he told BBC Sport in 2013. “I have two passports. I have a German passport and Jamaican passport. I’m playing for Germany now.”
Having changed his shirt twice during his scintillating second-round victory over two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, Dustin Brown’s tattoo was on show to Centre Court, leading to some speculation over the identity of the inked face on his torso. Brown says it’s his father, Leroy. Perhaps his patting of it seconds after winning was a clue as were the rather clunking assertions that his dad was on his side.
Beaten Nadal before
Thursday’s defeat is not the first time Dustin Brown is beating Rafael Nadal. The German, Jamaican secured a remarkable victory over Nadal at Halle last year,
Dusin Brown’s highest ever ranking as a professional tennis player is 78, attained in June 2014. And his overall ATP record going into Thursday’s match was 32-56 and record in slams 3-10, including a first-round victory in the 2010 US Open where he was beaten by Andy Murray in the second round.
Knocked out champ before
Although Brown had to qualify at Roehampton this year for the Championships, he is far from a SW19 novice, this being his fifth appearance in six years. In 2010, he lost in the first round to Jürgen Melzer, two years later to David Ferrer at the same stage and in 2014 was knocked out by Marcos Baghdatis. But in 2013, he defeated Guillermo García-López and then went on to beat Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2. “I cried like a little girl,” he said after that win. “It’s going to take this a while to sink in. I’m not normally the kind of guy to cry. I’m playing Lleyton Hewitt, a guy you grow up watching.”
By Olisemeka Obeche (with agency reports)