“Today is not the day.”
Those were the words of Rafael Nadal in his press conference following his absolutely stunning straight set loss to Steve Darcis 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in the 1st round on Monday.
Granted, Nadal was actually referring to not wanting to talk about his physical status, but the irony is still there.
Nadal wanted the credit to go to his opponent, and with good reason. The 135th ranked player in the world, Darcis, played extraordinary tennis for 3 sets against a much more accomplished and intimidating opponent yet he never seemed to so much as flinch. Rafa himself said in his press conference, “Only that can say today is congratulate Steve Darcis. He played a fantastic match.”
See, apparently someone forgot to tell Darcis that Nadal has 164 victories in majors, which is more than the amount of matches Darcis has matches played (151). Darcis, nicknamed “the shark” because of a tattoo on his shoulder, produced some beautiful grass court tennis, while Nadal seemed to be stuck in a clay court mindset.
Darcis blasted 53 winners, compared to Nadal’s 32. While the number of errors were the same at 24.
The most impressive part of the afternoon for Darcis though might have been that he seemed to force Nadal into a state of resignation in the 3rd set. Even the commentators mentioned how they had never seen Nadal look so resigned in a match, especially at a slam….in the 1st round!!
Was it Nadal’s knees? Was it because of the grass? Or was it because of “The Shark”?
Those questions will never be answered with absolute certainty, but one thing is for sure:
In the end, today was indeed not the day for Nadal.
However, it was the day for one Steve Darcis…a day that he will not be forgetting anytime soon.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson