For the second straight year, Rafael Nadal suffered a stunning early-round loss at Wimbledon, this time losing in straight sets to No. 135-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis in the opening round, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, via Wimbledon's official Twitter account:
The shocking loss marks Nadal's first-ever first-round defeat at a Grand Slam event, via Infostrada Sports:
There's a first for everything...RT @Infostrada2016: Rafael Nadal has NEVER been eliminated in the first round in all of his 34 previous GS.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) June 24, 2013
He lost to Lukas Rosol in the second round at the All England Club a year ago, before beginning a seven-month layoff to recover from a left knee injury.
The 29-year-old Darcis came out scorching hot in the first set, smashing 25 winners and committing just nine unforced errors. He would take the opening frame 7-6 after winning the tiebreak, via Wimbledon:
The second set featured more of the same, as Darcis outplayed Nadal from start to finish, striking three times as many winners as unforced errors and winning 83 percent of his first-serve points.
Darcis would squander three set points in the second-set tiebreak, but he recovered nicely to put Nadal in a massive hole, via Wimbledon:
In the third set, Wimbledon tweeted the following stat to put the surprising result into perspective:
Darcis, who started gaining confidence with each point, went on to finish off a timid Nadal moments later—taking the third set and the match in convincing fashion. He won 86 percent of his first-serve points in the deciding frame.
After picking up by far the biggest victory of his career, Darcis will advance to the second round at Wimbledon for just the second time. He will take on unseeded Pole Lukasz Kubot on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the loss is just Nadal's third of the year and ends a memorable unbeaten run that featured a French Open title and began back in late April at the Barcelona Open. Nadal was 43-2 this season coming into the match, while Darcis was just 2-6.
The 27-year-old Nadal will now have to go back to the drawing board and prepare for the summer hard-court season.
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