Wimbledon 2013: 'Shark' Darcis basks in taking bite out of Nadal
Steve Darcis basked in his nickname of ‘Shark’ as he sunk his Belgian teeth into Rafael Nadal on Monday, but his reaction to discovering who he was playing at Wimbledon was not so intimidating.
“Shit!,” said the world number 135 when asked what his initial thoughts were when he had been drawn to face the 2008 and 2010 champion in the first round.
It was a reasonable reaction for a 29-year-old who has never got beyond the second round at the All England Club in his career and arrived in London having won just two matches on the tour all year.
On the other side of the net was Nadal, fresh from a record eighth French Open title, having won 43 of 45 matches and seven titles since his return from a seven-month injury lay-off in February.
But Darcis, buoyed by having defeated top 10 player Tomas Berdych on the Wimbledon grass at the Olympics, knew he had a chance if he could exploit the grasscourt uncertainty caused by Nadal’s lack of action on the surface this year.
Darcis’s nickname comes from having a tattoo of shark on his right shoulder.
“Why? Because my astrology sign is fish. I love sharks. It’s like an S, like Steve. So I did it like few years ago, and that’s why,” he explained.
On his disappointing year, he added: “I had many injuries and many problems, like private. Really, I couldn’t play for two, three months. I was playing really bad.
“I was also a little bit unlucky. Two times I lost with match points two weeks in a row.”
Darcis, with career titles at Amersfoort in 2007 and Memphis the following year, now faces the less attractive prospect of taking on Poland’s Lukasz Kubot for a place in the third round which would equal his best performance at a major.
“This is my biggest win, so I have to be happy,” said Darcis.
“I heard also this is the first time Nadal lost in the first round of a Grand Slam, so it’s even tougher I think for him. Maybe he was not in the best shape ever. Maybe he didn’t play his best match.
“But I have to be proud of me, I think. I played a great match and I fight from the beginning till the end, and I played unbelievable tennis.”