“As a fan of tennis, it’s probably disappointing that he’s out, because he’s a fun guy to watch,” Murray said about Nadal. “He’s one of the best players that’s ever played, so it’s a shame in that respect.”
Nadal gave the 29-year-old Darcis kudos for playing well. Taking big swings and connecting time and again, Darcis finished with 53 winners to Nadal’s 32, while making the same number of unforced errors. Nadal would slump his shoulders or hang his head after misses, and there was a noticeable hitch in his step on some points.
“Nobody was expecting me to win. So I had to play a good match, relax and enjoy. ... That’s what I did,” Darcis said. “I really wanted to do something today.”
He did something no one ever had: In 34 previous major tournaments, Nadal was 34-0 in the first round. Overall, he came in 164-22 at majors, an .882 winning percentage. In the first 178 Grand Slam matches of his career, Nadal never lost in any round to a player ranked lower than 70th. But in his last nine major matches, he’s been beaten by a pair of guys in the hundreds.
Asked what he did well Monday, Nadal said: “Not a lot of things.”
There were two moments when the 27-year-old Spaniard had a real chance to get close. He broke Darcis to go up 6-5 in the second set, but dropped serve right away with a flubbed backhand, a shot that gave Nadal problems repeatedly.
Then, after saving Darcis’ first four set points in the ensuing tiebreaker, Nadal held one set point himself. With a chance to even the match, however, he dumped a backhand into the net. Two points later, Nadal sailed an errant forehand long, and Darcis held his right fist aloft, celebrating a two-set lead.