Rafael Nadal has been dumped out of Wimbledon in the first-round by world number 135, Steve Darcis, in one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history.
Nadal, who is currently ranked number 5 in the world and entered the event just weeks after claiming his eighth French Open crown in nine years, was dispatched in straight sets by the Belgian, who recorded a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 victory.
The Spaniard looked to be struggling throughout the contest, with experts stating that he failed to adjust from the rigours of clay to grass court.
This is the second year in a row that has seen Nadal depart the tournament at a relatively early stage. Last year, he lost to Lukas Rosol in five sets, despite the fact that the 26-year-old Czech was making his Wimbledon debut.
Nadal’s encounter against Darcis was his first on grass since his match against Rosol, and it was clear to see that the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion was far from his best.
Nadal had to save four set points in the second-set tie break, and even when he was presented with a set point of his own to level up the match he failed to take it, which left Darcis to claim the set at the fifth time of asking.
Darcis then broke Nadal in the first game of the third set and rather than being overwhelmed with the opportunity that had suddenly presented itself to him, he simply powered through to serve out a famous victory.
Talking about the defeat Nadal told the BBC, “There were not a lot of good things for me. I tried my best all the time I had my chances but I did not make it. It is difficult to adapt your game on grass. Now is not the right time to talk about my knee. The only thing I can do is congratulate my opponent. It is not a tragedy, I lost, it is sport.
He then added, “I’m confident that I will recover and be ready for the next tournaments. I have played far more than I expected after my injury and I will try my best for the next couple of years.”
Meanwhile, Darcis noted, “Rafa did not play his best match here, it is hard when it is your first match on grass. I just wanted to play my own game, coming to the net and not playing far from the baseline. I did not target his knee, tennis is hard enough when you are thinking about yourself.”
The Belgian concluded, “I have always played well on grass, perhaps not here where I have had some tough draws, but I am really happy. I do not know what to say.”
Who do you think will win Wimbledon now that Nadal has been eliminated?
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