A couple of weeks after being crowned the French Open champion for the 8th time, Rafael Nadal lost in his 1st round match at Wimbledon against Steve Darcis. Nadal’s loss was definitely a shock to tennis fans around the world. He lost to the 135th-seed player who had an overall 2-6 singles record prior to the match against Nadal.
As I turned on my TV this morning to watch the match, there was no doubt in my mind that Nadal would advance to the 2nd round. However, the doubts began to arise after Nadal lost the 1st set tiebreak to Darcis. In the 2nd set, Nadal and Darcis fought hard for each point and entered a 2nd set tiebreak. At one point in the tiebreak, Darcis had 4 set points, but Nadal didn’t give up easily. In fact, he had one set point of his own. Nevertheless, Darcis was able to capitalize off of Nadal’s apparent weaknesses in today’s match and took a 2-0 lead on Nadal.
At this point in the match, I opened my laptop and searched who Steve Darcis was. Then, I checked Twitter to see if people were actually talking about the game—they were! Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal and Steve Darcis were all trending topics and there was conversation around the Twitter universe about the near defeat that Nadal was going to suffer.
Nadal never stopped trying. But it became clear in the 3rd set that Nadal’s knee was causing him trouble; the same knee that forced him to sit out 7 months last year. His struggle continued and after 10 games in the 3rd set, Nadal lost.
After the game, during his press conference, Nadal didn’t have an excuse. He didn’t say his knee was the issue or that he was fatigued. He said that Darcis played an incredible match and beat him, deservingly so. Truth is, that Nadal’s knee was definitely bothering him and that fatigue played a huge role in his performance on the court today. After an impressive finish at the French Open two weeks ago, he only had a week to rest and a week to practice before Wimbledon.
Seeing Nadal leave a Grand Slam this early isn’t usual, especially because he had a 34-0 record in the first round of Grand Slam tournaments heading into Monday’s match. Nadal’s early departure gives the opportunity for other players, like Darcis, to shine. Was Darcis’ win today against Nadal a fluke? We will see in the 2nd round of Wimbledon when he takes on 119th ranked Lukasz Kubot from Poland.
After his shocking defeat against Nadal, Darcis didn’t have much to say. He told ESPN, “I don’t know what to say right now. I’m really happy”.