Friday, March 7, 2014
By Stephen Wilson / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 2)
Steve Darcis of Belgium reacts as he defeats Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men's first round singles at Wimbledon Monday.
Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts as he loses a point to Steve Darcis of Belgium during their men's first round singles match at Wimbledon Monday.
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.
Darcis then broke to open the third, and the spectators roared, not so much because they dislike Nadal, but perhaps so they could forever boast, "I was there."
Despite feeling tired as the match approached three hours, Darcis played brilliantly in the final game. He hit a forehand winner. He delivered another winner on the run and, as his momentum carried him near the stands, Darcis dropped to a knee and pumped his right arm. After one last Nadal miscue set up match point, Darcis capped his victory with a 109 mph ace.
"I'm not going to get wasted just because I beat Nadal. ... I might have a beer; the 'recovery beer' we call it," Darcis said. "I need to keep my focus. It would be a shame to beat Nadal, then stop there."
In 2012, Rosol did stop there, losing his next match at Wimbledon. And in a bit of symmetry, Rosol's 2013 first-round match — a five-set loss — was wrapping up on tiny Court 19 just as Nadal and Darcis were starting on adjacent Court 1.
While he was sidelined from June to February, Nadal missed the London Olympics, U.S. Open and Australian Open. Pressed about his upcoming schedule, and the notion that his grinding, hustling style might put too much pounding on his body, Nadal at first said Monday that no one can ever be sure about the future.
But he did say: "I don't have any intention of missing the U.S. Open," the year's last Grand Slam tournament, which begins in late August.
A reporter wanted to know what Nadal's goals are at this point.
"My only dream now is to go home and think ... (and) analyze my situation," he said.
Between words, Nadal took a sip of water, then plopped his player badge on the table in front of him. For the first time in his Grand Slam career, he won't be needing it after Day 1.