Rafael Nadal: Courtesy Getty Images
Wimbledon, England (Sports Network) - For the second time in two years Rafael Nadal suffered a shocking early exit at Wimbledon, where reigning champion and seven-time overall winner Roger Federer was an easy opening-round winner Monday at The Championships.
Last year, Nadal lost to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol in five sets in the second round in arguably the biggest upset in Wimbledon history, and on Monday, he suffered his first-ever opening-round loss at a Grand Slam event when 103rd-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis knocked out the former world No. 1 superstar in straight sets, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, on Court 1 at the All England Club.
Nadal was controversially given a fifth seed for this fortnight, but that over-hyped point is now moot, as the Spanish great will not meet his long-time rival Federer in what was billed as a potential blockbuster quarterfinal next week.
The 27-year-old Nadal, who appeared to be nursing a left leg injury on Monday, had been 34-0 when playing the first round of a major. He's a five-time Wimbledon finalist, including titles here in 2008 and 2010, and owns 12 Grand Slam titles overall, including his most recent one at the French Open earlier this month.
Nadal had reached finals in all nine of his previous tournaments this year, including an eighth French Open title among his seven 2013 championships. The Spanish great returned to action back in February after being sidelined with a knee injury for seven months, or right after he succumbed to Rosol here a year ago.
The last time a reigning French Open champ lost in the first round at Wimbledon was Gustavo Kuerten back in 1997.
Darcis is a 29-year-old who owns two titles on the ATP World Tour, with his last one coming in Memphis five years ago.
He played brilliant tennis on Monday, however, while Nadal struggled throughout, including an ineffective two-handed backhand. The stunner came to a close when Darcis swatted a resounding match-ending ace.
Darcis had been 2-6 on tour this year prior to Monday. But he's now 2-11 lifetime against top-10 performers.
When Nadal fails to reach the final at Wimbledon, he loses here early, advancing no further than the third round in four other trips.
The Sports Network