Brown makes habit out of beating life's odds and Nadal

Dustin Brown's stirring performance in his second-round win against Rafael Nadal has been described by tennis legend John McEnroe as the finest by a low-ranked player on Centre Court.
Dustin Brown's stirring performance in his second-round win against Rafael Nadal has been described by tennis legend John McEnroe as the finest by a low-ranked player on Centre Court.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Dustin Brown stands at 1.96m tall, with dreadlocks about half that long, and his weight is listed at a lithe 78kg.

He has a large tattoo of his father over his left rib cage, has rings in his ears and a stud on his tongue and speaks English with a German-Caribbean accent.

He grew up in Germany and Jamaica, with parents from each of those countries, spent several years living in a camper van and driving around Europe to play in tennis tournaments, stringing other players' rackets for extra cash.

All of that sounds unusual to some, especially at a staid tennis establishment like Wimbledon.

But to Brown, whose Twitter handle is DreddyTennis, there is nothing at all strange about his appearance or life experiences.

"It's difficult when people ask me about myself because, to me, it is normal," the 30-year-old said. "I could be sitting here and saying, 'Why are you guys all different'?"

What is a little different is that Brown, ranked world No. 102, has found a knack for beating Rafael Nadal, which he did on Thursday for the second time in two tries.

This time it was on Centre Court at Wimbledon and, after his 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 10th-seed Nadal, he bounced around the grounds from one interview to another, with his dreadlocks in a cap and a Superman logo on his T-shirt.

He accepted cheers and hugs from fans and fellow players, like Frenchman Gael Monfils.

John McEnroe, the former world No. 1 who is an analyst for the broadcaster BBC, said it was one of the finest performances he had ever seen by a low-ranked player on Centre Court.

Told of McEnroe's comments, Brown said: "It's a great feeling for him to say that, obviously, from the generation that was playing serve and volley, coming to the net a lot. It was great to be able to do that today, and do it for that long."

Grass is Brown's favourite surface, and he beat Nadal on it last year in Halle, Germany. He defeated another former Wimbledon champion, Lleyton Hewitt, in the second round at the All England club in 2013 which, at the time, was probably the best win of his life.

Brown offers rapid-fire and piercing insights into a wide range of topics, from tennis tactics to the racist encounters he has experienced in Germany.

"Obviously, all of that has made me to the person I am, tennis-wise and as a character," he said. "And I guess all that led to this day today, which is probably the best day of my life."

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'Brown makes habit out of beating life's odds and Nadal'. Print Edition | Subscribe