The professional tennis tours are suspended until at least July 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with certain regions having their lockdown restrictions relaxed, exhibition events are set to resume. The first will begin Friday, as the Tennis Point Exhibition Series launches behind closed doors in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate state.
Among the eight players in action will be Dustin Brown, who famously sent Rafael Nadal packing in the second round of 2015 Wimbledon. Here are 10 things to know about the flashy serve-and-volleyer:
1. He's 2-0 against Rafael Nadal. Brown had been steadily climbing the rankings for years, but at 2014 Halle, he burst into prominence with a second-round stunner against the then-No. 1 Spaniard, 6-4, 6-1. They met once more in the second round of the grass-court major the following year, with the German prevailing again, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal was ranked No. 10 that time.
2. He's the only qualifier ever to beat Nadal at a major. The world No. 2 has a 24-1 career record against qualifiers at Grand Slams, the only loss being against Brown at the All England Club five years ago.
“Obviously he’s one of the best players of the sport, and for me, being able to play against him twice on my favorite surface is probably my luck,” Brown said of Nadal that day. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to play him on clay or hard because it would make playing my type of tennis even more difficult.”
3. His biggest success on the Grand Slam stage has come at Wimbledon. He has reached the third round twice and both showings occurred in London—first in 2013, falling to Adrian Mannarino, and then two years later, where he fell to Viktor Troicki. He is 9-20 overall in Slam main draw matches.
4. He has a total of five career Top 10 wins. In addition to the two aforementioned wins over 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, Brown has beaten No. 9 John Isner on the clay of Houston in 2014, No. 7 Marin Cilic on the indoor hard courts of Montpellier in 2017, and No. 5 Alexander Zverev on the grass of Stuttgart in 2019.
5. He’s a two-time ATP semifinalist and 11-time ATP quarterfinalist. Brown's two ATP semifinals both came in 2016, at Montpellier and Gstaad. His most recent ATP quarterfinal appearance came at Stuttgart last June, where he very nearly reached the semifinals—he held a match point in the third set before ultimately falling to Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in a thriller, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (2), 7-6 (2).
6. He's been a star on the ATP Challenger circuit, too. The 35-year-old has captured eight Challenger titles in his career, most recently in April 2019 on the clay of Sophia Antipolis, France, where he beat current No. 32 Filip Krajinovic in the final. He has also won 19 career doubles titles at the Challenger level.
7. He went as high as No. 64 on the ATP rankings . Brown reached that career-high ranking on October 10, 2016, just a few months after his last ATP semifinal in Gstaad. He is a former No. 43 in doubles, winning two ATP doubles titles and reaching another four ATP doubles finals.
8. He’s been trying to work his way back up the rankings following a back injury. After his win over Cilic at Montpellier in 2017, the German had to retire after just one game in his next match against Benoit Paire in the quarterfinals due to back pain—he later found out that it was a herniated disc.
He was still in the Top 100 at the time, but dropped out later in 2017, followed by the Top 200 in 2018.
“You try and find ways to manage it,” he said in Stuttgart last June. “I guess it took a while to figure out and I think it’s also healing and getting better, and it’s maybe not as bad as it used to be. I try and manage it and a lot of players have things that they have to deal with. It’s just part of the game.”
9. He used to play for Jamaica. Brown was born in Celle, Germany to his Jamaican father, Leroy, and his German mother, Inge. He moved to Jamaica in 1996 to start his professional tennis career, but then moved back to Germany in 2004, and switched representation in 2010.
10. He traveled Europe in a campervan from 2004 to 2007. Brown’s parents got him a Volkswagen campervan, which he used to travel around playing tournaments in his early years on the tour.
“It was a brilliant idea by my parents, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go on playing,” he told the New York Times in 2010. “It was a means of competing week in, week out.”
He went from outside the Top 800 in 2004 to inside the Top 500 in 2007, eventually breaking the Top 100 and playing his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2010—and the rest is history.