Wimbledon 2013: Rafael Nadal did not trust his knee on a surface that makes his sliding game impossible
The two-time champion is out of Wimbledon
Two weeks and one day after lifting his 12 Grand Slam title Rafael Nadal has crashed out of Wimbledon, beaten by the hitherto little-known Belgian Steve Darcis.
There was a suspicion that Nadal's knee injury contributed to the defeat, but tough he developed a limp late on for most of the match it was more a case of his not appearing to trust his knee's fitness on a surface which it is hard for him to slide on.
Darcis, 29, had only won one previous match at Wimbledon, but did beat Thomas Berdych here in the Olympics.
He said: “I think it is a big shock as no-one was expecting it. Rafa did not play his best tennis, but I knew the first game on grass is always difficult and he lost early last year.”
Nadal went out to Lukas Rosol last year in the second round. This was his first opening round exit in a 35-Gland Slam career. He is also the first reigning French Open champion to go out in the first round at Wimbledon since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997.
The match lasted just shy of three hours with Darcis winning the first two sets on the tie-break, the second off which went to 10-8. Darcis, however, broke in the third set and victory seemed certain when, at 3-4 down, Nadal sprinted towards a drop shot and pulled up lame.
He battled on, at one point having a break point, but lost the game. The two-time Wimbledon champion successfully held serve to stay in the match but Darcis, working him around the court, forced a match point. He delivered an ace and fell to his knees as if he had won the tournament itself.
Phil Hughes injury: Cricket world reels as Australian opener 'fights for his life'
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund player ratings: Who was the star man at the Emirates? Alexis Sanchez? Santi Cazorla? Or Yaya Sanogo?
Phil Hughes: A swashbuckling, raw and talented batsman who had the world at his feet
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund report: Yaya Sanogo and Alexis Sanchez are on target as Gunners secure impressive victory
This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Bollywood actress Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy after appearing in mock TV wedding scene