Nadal shocked again at Wimbledon; Federer advances

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Updated: June 24, 2013

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For the second time in two years Rafael Nadal suffered one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history, while reigning champion and seven-time overall winner Roger Federer was an easy opening-round winner Monday at The Championships.

Last year, Nadal lost to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol in five sets in the second round in arguably the biggest upset in Wimbledon history, and on Monday, he suffered his first-ever opening-round loss at a Grand Slam event when 135th-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis knocked out the former world No. 1 superstar in straight sets, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, on Court 1 at the All England Club.

Nadal was controversially given a fifth seed for this fortnight, but that over-hyped point is now moot, as the Spanish great will not meet his long-time rival Federer in what was billed as a potential blockbuster quarterfinal next week.

Also on Monday, second-seeded British crowd favorite Andy Murray rolled past German Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Murray is the reigning U.S. Open champion and Aussie Open runner-up who lost to Federer in last year’s marquee Wimbledon finale and then beat Federer a few weeks later in the Olympic gold- medal match right here at the All England Club.

Murray will try to give Britain its first men’s Wimbledon singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936.

The 27-year-old Nadal, who appeared to be nursing a left leg injury on Monday, had been 34-0 when playing the first round of a major. He’s a five-time Wimbledon finalist, including titles here in 2008 and 2010, and owns 12 Grand Slam titles overall, including his most recent one at the French Open earlier this month.

Nadal had reached finals in all nine of his previous tournaments this year, including an eighth French Open title among his seven 2013 championships. The Spanish great returned to action back in February after being sidelined with a knee injury for seven months, or right after he succumbed to Rosol here a year ago.

The last time a reigning French Open champ lost in the first round at Wimbledon was Gustavo Kuerten back in 1997.

Darcis is a 29-year-old who owns two titles on the ATP World Tour, with his last one coming in Memphis five years ago.

He played brilliant tennis on Monday, however, while Nadal struggled mightily throughout, including an extremely ineffective two-handed backhand. The stunner came to a close when Darcis swatted a resounding match-ending ace.

After losing the first set via tiebreak, a sluggish Nadal appeared as though he might get back into the match when he broke for a 5-4 lead in the second, but Darcis broke right back en route to forcing another tiebreak.

Darcis blew four set points in the second-set tiebreak, but converted on a fifth when Nadal misfired long with an errant forehand.

In the third set, Darcis opened with a break of serve and did not look back from there.

“Rafa Nadal didn’t play his best tennis today,” Darcis said. “The first match on grass is always difficult. It’s his first one. Of course, it’s a big win. I tried to come to the net as soon as I could, not play too far from the baseline. I think it worked pretty good today.”

Darcis is the lowest-ranked player to beat Nadal since Joachim Johansson — ranked No. 690th – defeated the Spaniard in 2006 in Stockholm.

Nadal did not play in any of the grass-court Wimbledon tune-ups the previous two weeks.

When asked how he felt physically after that match, Nadal said: “This is not the time to talk about these sort of things. I don’t want to talk about my knee.”

Darcis had been 2-6 on tour this year prior to Monday. But he’s now 2-11 lifetime against top-10 performers.

When Nadal fails to reach the final at Wimbledon, he loses here early, advancing no further than the third round in four other trips.

Meanwhile, the third-seeded former world No. 1 Federer leveled Romanian veteran Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 in a mere 69 minutes. The Swiss great improved to 67-7 lifetime at Wimbledon by striking seven aces, breaking Hanescu six times and holding his quality serve throughout the brief affair.

“It’s a special moment,” Federer said of striding out onto Centre Court. “It doesn’t really change. You feel very unique because you are the one opening the court.”

The 17-time Grand Slam king Federer beat Murray in last year’s Wimbledon final to tie Pete Sampras for the most men’s titles here in the Open Era.

“He seems the most natural on this surface of the other guys,” Federer said of Murray. “To me Andy sort of stands out a little bit over the others.”

Federer’s second-round opponent on Wednesday will be Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Meanwhile, sixth-seeded former Aussie Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga topped Belgian David Goffin 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-3 and 10th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic dismissed former Aussie Open runner-up and former Wimbledon semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The French Tsonga reached the semifinals in his last two trips to the AEC. Cilic was a grass-court runner-up at the Wimbledon tune-up at Queen’s Club two weeks ago.

Viktor Troicki took out 14th-seeded fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), while 15th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro erased Estonian Jurgen Zopp 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, towering 18th-seeded American John Isner got past Russian Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), and 20th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny dismissed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-4, 7-5, 7-5.

In other Day-1 action involving seeds, No. 22 Argentine Juan Monaco whipped German Bastian Knittel 6-4, 6-2, 6-3; No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland pasted Brit Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-2, 6-4; No. 25 Benoit Paire of France topped Romanian Adrian Ungur 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; and veteran Austrian left-hander Jurgen Melzer upended No. 30 Italian Fabio Fognini 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

Several other men reached the second round on Monday, including last week’s Den Bosch champion Nicolas Mahut, Canadian Vasek Pospisil, Latvian Ernests Gulbis, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, and German Julian Reister, who tackled last year’s giant-killer Rosol in five sets.

MONDAY’S FIRST ROUND MATCHES

Andy Murray (2) def. Benjamin Becker, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
Roger Federer (3) def. Victor Hanescu, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0
Steve Darcis def. Rafael Nadal (5), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6) def. David Goffin, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-3
Marin Cilic (10) def. Marcos Baghdatis, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Lleyton Hewitt leads Stanislas Wawrinka (11), 6-4, 4-5
Viktor Troicki def. Janko Tipsarevic (14), 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5)
Nicolas Almagro (15) def. Jurgen Zopp, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5
John Isner (18) def. Evgeny Donskoy, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3)
Mikhail Youzhny (20) def. Robin Haase, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5
Juan Monaco (22) def. Bastian Knittel, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Jerzy Janowicz (24) def. Kyle Edmund, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
Benoit Paire (25) def. Adrian Ungur, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
Jurgen Melzer def. Fabio Fognini (30), 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-3, 6-2
Julien Benneteau (31) def. Tobias Kamke, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-2
Tommy Robredo (32) def. Alex Bogomolov Jr., 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
Nicolas Mahut def. Jan Hajek, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Yen-Hsun Lu leads James Ward, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), 5-5
Rajeev Ram def. Lukas Lacko, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2
Kenny De Schepper def. Paolo Lorenzi, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-2
Andrey Kuznetsov def. Albert Montanes, 6-3, 6-4 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3
Vasek Pospisil def. Marc Gicquel, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3)
Julian Reister def. Lukas Rosol, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (0-7), 6-4
Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Rogerio Dutra Silva, 6-4, 6-0, 6-4
Ernests Gulbis def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 7-5
Fernando Verdasco def. Xavier Malisse, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
Adrian Mannarino def. Pablo Andujar, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3
Dustin Brown def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Lukasz Kubot def. Igor Andreev, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2
Stephane Robert def. Alejandro Falla, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5
Guillaume Rufin def. Marinko Matosevic, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Radek Stepanek def. Matt Reid, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4

TUESDAY’S FIRST ROUND MATCHES

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Florian Mayer
David Ferrer (4) vs. Martin Alund
Tomas Berdych (7) vs. Martin Klizan
Juan Martin del Potro (8) vs. Albert Ramos
Richard Gasquet (9) vs. Marcel Granollers
Kei Nishikori (12) vs. Matthew Ebden
Tommy Haas (13) vs. Dmitry Tursunov
Philipp Kohlschreiber (16) vs. Ivan Dodig
Milos Raonic (17) vs. Carlos Berlocq
Gilles Simon (19) vs. Feliciano Lopez
Sam Querrey (21) vs. Bernard Tomic
Andreas Seppi (23) vs. Denis Istomin
Alexandr Dolgopolov (26) vs. Gastao Elias
Kevin Anderson (27) vs. Olivier Rochus
Jeremy Chardy (28) vs. Ryan Harrison
Grigor Dimitrov (29) vs. Simone Bolelli
Grega Zemlja vs. Michael Russell
Guido Pella vs. Jesse Levine
Leonardo Mayer vs. Aljaz Bedene
Michael Llodra vs. Jarkko Nieminen
Ricardas Berankis vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Wayne Odesnik vs. Jimmy Wang
Philipp Petzschner vs. Michal Przysiezny
Daniel Brands vs. Daniel Gimeno-Traver
Alex Kuznetsov vs. Igor Sijsling
James Duckworth vs. Denis Kudla
Andreas Haider-Maurer vs. Go Soeda
James Blake vs. Thiemo de Bakker
Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili
Horacio Zeballos vs. Santiago Giraldo
Bobby Reynolds vs. Steve Johnson
Blaz Kavcic vs. Jan-Lennard Struff