Wimbledon 2013: Rafa Nadal crashes out after shock straight sets first round defeat by unseeded Belgian Steve Darcis

Spaniard in first-ever defeat in the first round of a Grand Slam

Rafael Nadal went out of a grand slam in the opening round for the first time in his career today as his Wimbledon agony continued against Steve Darcis.

The 12-time major champion, fresh from winning a record eighth French Open just two weeks ago, returned to the All England Club hoping to make amends for last year's second-round exit to Lukas Rosol, but was unable to make amends as he was beaten 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (10/8) 6-4.

That shock loss to Rosol was validated by the seven months he subsequently missed through a recurrence of his long-standing knee injury.

And although Darcis - a Belgian ranked at 135th in the world - played the match of his life, Nadal did seem to be troubled again today.

Nadal, 27, looked unable to move off his left leg, with his knee taped up, and struggled to plant his weight down to hit his forehand.

Being bandaged in action is not uncommon for him, though, and since returning to the tour after seven months out he has made the final of all nine tournaments he has entered - winning seven - making this breakdown all the more surprising.

However it was his first competitive appearance on grass since the Rosol loss and with movement restricted against an opponent who rarely missed with a raft of flat and deep ground strokes, defeat was perhaps almost inevitable.

Injured or not, Nadal's name is a scalp for Darcis, who has never made it past the third round of a slam and has not won a tournament since March 2008.

But this was his day and he made sure he cashed in, becoming the lowest-ranked player Nadal has lost to since he was beaten by Joachim Johansson in 2006.

With some bookmakers pricing him at 100/1 for the match, Darcis may not have been the only one to have a good day, and from the word go he looked the better player, winning but failing to take four opening-set break points.

There would be no way out for Nadal in the 11th game, though, with a wild forehand costing him his serve for the first time. Although he broke back immediately, he was comprehensively outplayed in the tie-break.

The pattern continued deep into the second set. Nadal had one chance of a break put passed it up in the third, with Darcis continually finding incredible depth with the flattest of shots, leaving the Spaniard looking for a way out of trouble.

He managed to conjure one in the 11th game - just as Darcis had in the opener - and this time played it perfectly. But just like in the first, a break-back was immediate as Nadal allowed Darcis to secure a second tie-break. That went the same way too, with Nadal saving four set points and then passing up one of his own before pounding a forehand way over the baseline.

It was at this point that Nadal's lack of movement was starting to become glaringly obvious and he conceded his serve at the start of the third set with barely a whimper, and with a game advantage, Darcis moved forward with even more confidence.

He did offer Nadal a route back in with a break point in the eighth game but it was squandered, and as the match came to a close Darcis displayed nerves of steel, seeing out the triumph with an ace.

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam