Tuesday, 25 June 2013 09:27
LONDON, (Reuters): Lightning struck twice for Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon as the Spanish 12-times grand slam champion suffered a shock first round defeat by Belgian outsider Steve Darcis on Monday.
A year after losing to Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round, Nadal was outplayed by 135th-ranked Darcis on Court One, losing 7-6(4) 7-6(8) 6-4 in front of a disbelieving crowd.
Fifth seed Nadal, who had never lost in the first round of a grand slam tournament before, served for the second set but Darcis hit back to move two sets in front.
With Nadal, bidding for a third Wimbledon title, struggling to find his form and appearing to be struggling physically, Darcis then broke early in the third set and held his nerve to record the biggest win of his career.
The 29-year-old secured victory with a booming ace. “Rafa did not play his best match here, it is hard when it is your first match on grass,” Darcis said after stepping off court. “I just wanted to play my own game, coming to the net and not playing far from the baseline.
“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.” Darcis was the lowest-ranked player to beat Nadal for seven years, meaning the Spaniard became the first reigning French Open champion to lose in the first round of Wimbledon since Gustavo Kuerten suffered a first-round exit in 1997.