In what has to go down as one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history, Steve Darcis has defeated reigning French Open champion Rafael Nadal 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 6-4 in the first round of the tournament. The shock exit of the 5th-seeded Spaniard has thrown the draw wide open and squashed hopes of a much-anticipated Federer-Nadal quarterfinal clash.
Darcis was in the form of his life from the start, firing winners to all parts of the court as Nadal struggled to keep up with the pace of the Belgian’s groundstrokes. The Belgian hit as many as 53 winners against only 24 unforced errors, while Nadal made the same number of errors but hit a relatively low 32 winners.
Darcis took the first set 7-4 in a tiebreaker, but needed 5 set points to close out the second, again in a tiebreaker. Nadal was then broken in the very first game of the third set, and that was to be the last turning point of a match which became the talk of the sporting world as it progressed.
Nadal seemed to be having a bit of an issue with his knees, as he frequently resorted to using the slice off his backhand, and failed to push off in time to retrieve some of Darcis’s drop shots. The extent of Nadal’s injury is not clear yet.
Darcis is an unseeded player ranked 135th in the world, and had never beaten Nadal before this match. Much like Nadal’s stunning loss to Lukas Rosol in last year’s second round, this match came completely out of the blue for the tennis world. The tournament has suddenly acquired a completely different complexion, with the other three members of the Big 4 (the quartet of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) now having one less obstacle to deal with.Published 24 Jun 2013, 22:47 IST