Raphael Nadal,world ranked no. 5, had his earliest, stunning, and surprising Wimbledon exit this year, after losing to Steve Darcis. Steve Darcis, a Belgian, ranked 135th in the world left everyone surprised by beating Nadal on straight sets 7-6 (8), 7-6 (4) and 6-4.
Wimbledon, one of the most high profile tournaments in tennis was never too kind to this Spaniard Champ Raphael Nadal, in fact he only won the title two times among his 12 major grand slam titles. After healing from a knee injury he has dreamed of a Wimbledon comeback but his dreams quickly touched rough reality by an infamous Belgian player, whose deeds may seem inferior comparing to Nadal. The Belgian was lowest ranked player to defeat Nadal in recent times. The grass court showed Nadal “the door”.
Steve Darcis, on the week of the supermoon, is walking over the moon, after defeating the tennis champ. In his words, ‘It is one of the best victories’. Of course it is, in comparison to him and Nadal, who is one of the ‘fab four’. In fact, the match result left both players surprised with the result; they didn’t expect the result along with spectators. But upsets do happen. Nadal was playing the match after 22 consecutive wins including the French open this year. His French open tally has reached 8, a world record. But still, he is king of clay court, not on grass.
It’s needless to mention Darcis, not only played against Nadal, but also against the odds. And the taste of defeating Nadal on straight sets is truly overwhelming. Nadal is champion of French open and Darcis is French speaker, simply a coincidence, not a telling factor.
“The first match on grass is always difficult,” said Darcis, a chatty sort with a shark tattoo on his left shoulder. “It’s his first one.”
And his last, this year, since tennis goes almost exclusively hard court after Wimbledon may see different results. Last year Nadal played two matches here, upset by another of unheralded reputation, No. 100 Lukas Rosol in the second round. And now world ranked 135th propelled a masterstroke to throw him out of the tournament. Raphael was shown door by Darcis. Wimbledon still offers a unique venue with the clay court.
“I tried to come to the net as soon as I could,” Darcis said of his tactics. “Not play too far from the baseline. I think it worked pretty good today.”
Though he has long way to go, he wants to celebrate this victory before thinking of the next oponnent. He has shown Nadal the exit door at Wimbledon.
Darcis, who had only one win this year over a player in the top 70 — coincidentally, Rosol — said it appeared Nadal was moving well.
“Physically, it looks OK,” said Darcis. “I think he was running. He was moving well. Of course, you don’t beat Nadal if he’s playing his best tennis, I think.”
Nadal still can’t digest his terrific early exit from the tournament. He hadn’t lost last 34 tournaments on first round. So, this is shocking and surprising. He was likely to combat tennis great Roger Federer and Andy Murray but now he finds himself out of the tourney.
“Today is not the time to talk about this,” said Nadal in the post-match news conference. He wore a billed cap, with his logo, the spiraling horns of a bull, pulled low.
“I don’t want to talk about my knee this afternoon,” he said. “All I can say today is I want to congratulate Steve Darcis. He played a fantastic match, and everything I say about my knee today is an excuse, and I don’t like to put any excuses when I am losing a match like I lost today.”
Nadal’s early exit may clear the air for other greats like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray or Roger Federer, but the very first day of Wimbledon gave a cloudy forecast; upsets are now synonymous to tennis and the early exit of Nadal proved it again. The king of clay court turned out to be a beggar on the grass court. Raphael Nadal was shown door on Wimbledon which may begin a string of surprises. Strawberries and cream are traditionally congratulating Steve Darcis.
Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul