The losses beg the question: Are these two stars done?
We'll learn a lot from their upcoming U.S. Open performances. How will the two legends perform in Flushing?
Read on to find out.
The tennis world was shocked when Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4, to the world's 135th-ranked player, Steve Darcis, in the first round.
It may turn out to be the biggest upset of the entire year. Darcis had 13 aces and Nadal looked uncharacteristically slow.
It was a weird turn of events for someone like Nadal, who entered Wimbledon with seven wins in his previous nine tournaments and had won 22 straight matches. In fact, it was the first time Nadal lost in the first round of a major.
Perhaps some of it had to do with the fact that, as per Greg Garber of ESPN, it appeared as if he was limping. That would certainly explain the slowness.
Will Nadal be able to return to form in the U.S. Open? He did win the event in 2010 and was the runner-up in 2011.
It all depends on the health of his knee. Nadal refused to blame the loss on his torn patella, telling The Telegraph:
Are you joking? I answered this question three or four times already. I’m not going to talk about my knee. The only thing I can say is that Steve played a fantastic match. Everything I could say about the knee would be an excuse, and I don’t like to do that when I lost a match like this. Steve deserves not one excuse.
Nadal did win at the French Open, meaning that his knee has to be at least somewhat healthy. If his knee is fine at the U.S. Open, there's no doubt that he has a legitimate chance of winning. If his knee is not where it needs to be, however, then another early exit is in the offing.
It's been a rough summer for Federer. After losing in the quarterfinals of the French Open, Federer was stunned in the second round at Wimbledon, losing to 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky.
The question must now be asked: Is Federer done?
It's been strange to see the once-dominant legend falter, but it's happening nonetheless. Federer, for whatever reason, is just not getting to balls like he used. Where he would once glide effortlessly around the court, his movements now seem labored.
Federer is only 31, which would seemingly take age out of the equation, although playing countless matches against the world's top players would take a toll on anyone throughout the years.
Maybe this is just a phase, a bad stretch in an otherwise fantastic career.
It's hard to know for certain. What we do know is that the U.S. Open will tell us a lot. If Federer makes a deep run to at least the semifinals, then all will be forgotten.
If he loses early on, then we will know for sure that this stretch is not a fluke.
The safe bet is to predict Federer to lose in the quarterfinals—an improvement over his Wimbledon performance, but still cause for concern.
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