Photo: Paul ZimmerRafael Nadal (ESP) and Steve Darcis (BEL)
There was one story that dominated the headlines on day one of Wimbledon – Rafael Nadal, the two-time champion who was looking to make amends for a second round loss here last year, fell in the first round at a major for the first time in his career.
The victor was world No. 135 Steve Darcis, a regular on Belgium’s Davis Cup team, who before yesterday’s stunning win was most notable for knocking out Tomas Berdych on the first day of the London 2012 Olympic Tennis Event, which also took place at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
“Nobody was expecting me to win,” said Darcis. “So I had to play a good match, relax, and enjoy the game. That's what I did. But I really wanted to do something today. You know, if you go on the court, if you try to have fun, it's not the good point. So I really try to fight. I knew I could have a chance if I play a good match. That's what happened.”
And while Nadal’s 76(4) 76(8) 64 loss - his earliest ever exit in a major - took centre stage on Monday it was one of just several upsets on the lawns of Wimbledon.
Lleyton Hewitt rolled back the years to defeat No. 11 seed Stanislas Wawrinka 64 75 63, Viktor Troicki played very well to overcome Davis Cup teammate and No. 14 seed Janko Tipsarevic 63 64 76(5) and Jurgen Melzer proved his grass court credentials with a 67(5) 75 63 62 win against No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw there were routine wins for the two men who remain favourites to reach the semifinals in the bottom half as Andy Murray and Roger Federer overcame Benjamin Becker and Victor Hanescu respectively.
The women’s bottom half also saw some seeds fall early. No. 5 seed Sara Errani lost 63 62 to Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig and No. 26 seed Varvara Lepchenko was defeated by Czech qualifier Eva Birnerova 62 46 64 to open up that section of the draw.
Maria Sharapova was given a stern test by young Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic on Centre Court but in the end the Russian proved too strong winning 76(5) 63. Victoria Azarenka overcame an injury scare after she took a tumble against Maria Joao Koehler to win 61 62.
The International Tennis Federation provides men's information to the media at Grand Slam events. For a full list of this year's notes click here.