PostHeaderIcon Rafa Nadal First Round Wimbledon Loss: An Unbelievable “Shock or Not?”

Steve Wake/AELTC

Steve Wake/AELTC

Rafa’s R1 loss today at Wimbledon was his first ever R1 loss at a major. And it came at the hands of a player ranked 130 spots below him. If this doesn’t call for an expanded edition of “Shock or Not?”, then I don’t know what does! Before we get to Rafa, let’s take a look at Sara Errani and Stan Wawrinka’s R1 losses. We’ll end with a thought on Serena’s Apology Tour.

Caroline Wozniacki bageled another player – Shock or Not? <wiping my eyes>Shock

Caroline ain’t been playing so well lately (2 years, give or take), so you do the math on this one… Good for her though.

Monica Puig defeats Sara Errani– Shock or Not? Shock

Monica Puig is one of the hot newcomers on the WTA tour, but still you’d think that Sara would find a way to grind this one out. Unfortunately, grass hasn’t been as kind to her game as the other surfaces, and it showed. Puig, in her first Wimbledon, hit with no fear and came away with a great win. Sara’s last match was the bagel/breadstick pasting she received at the French Open semifinals just over two weeks ago, and it had to have hurt her confidence. Hopefully she can regroup once the tour goes back to hard courts.

Lleyton Hewitt defeats Stan Wawrinka – Shock or Not? Shock

I realize that many won’t be shocked by this upset, but you can’t deny that Hewitt was the clear underdog coming into this match. Despite his fighting spirit and plentiful shouts of “Come on”, he faced an uphill battle in this R1 match. Stan has played with increasing confidence and mental fortitude in 2013 (unlike in years past), and was one of the guys to look out for heading to the quarterfinals.

It will be interesting to see if Lleyton can keep this up longer than a round or two. Even though he’s one of the older guys out there, he still has game. But Tommy Haas he is not…

Steve Darcis defeats Rafael Nadal – Shock or Not? A Seismic Shock, yet slightly Not

There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to adequately describe the seismic shot of Rafa’s first-round loss to Steve Darcis of Belgium. In addition to being his first R1 loss at a major in his career, it was also the first R1 loss for a French Open champion since Guga Kuerten in ’97.

The shock of this loss ranks right up there with Serena’s R1 loss to Virginie Razzano last year at the French Open. It was the kind of loss that upon hearing about, your jaw would drop. However, if you watched the match unfold it was pretty telling.

Though clearly not at his best, Rafa made no excuses for his sub-par performance, and readily complimented the performance of his opponent.  Darcis might be ranked 130 spots below Rafa at 135, but he played like a Top 10’er on a mission; using strong offense, great scrambling defense, and an “unreal” backhand slice that neutralized what little offense Rafa was able to muster.

It was a well-deserved win by Darcis. That said, it was also not wholly unexpected that Rafa would be vulnerable coming into this year’s tournament. His spectacular comeback from a 7-month injury layoff has come at a cost: a “winning penalty”, if you will. His record on the year is 47-2. That’s 49 matches, with hardly any break in his schedule. His fatigue is palpable. (And for the record, Darcis came into match with only 8 tour level matches under his belt.)

Also, it’s well-known that Rafa is a creature of habit. When those habits change, it’s usually not a good sign. Past years saw Rafa gladly trudge from Paris to London via Eurostar to get in a couple of matches at the Queens Club event. We knew he wouldn’t win, but it was helpful for the goal of getting in matches on grass before Wimbledon. His withdrawal from Halle was only bound to hurt his grass preparations

After so many matches in the lead up to the French, Rafa needed a break to heal his body after defending his title. But it did little to help his knee or his grass match prep. I guess it’s time for some more fishing in Mallorca.

The Serena Williams Apology Tour continues – Shock or Not? Shock

Serena has apologized, and apologized, and then apologized some more for her off-the-record remarks in the Rolling Stone article that were, unfortunately, very much ON-the-record! In support of burying the stereotype of catty female tennis players, I think it’s time for the Serena Apology Tour to come to grinding halt!

When news hit last week about her comments on Steubenville and Maria, the media focus was fair and mostly appropriate. A week later with the tournament underway, further stoking the flame between them with salacious questions in the pressroom is a waste of time that could be spent on better Wimbledon pursuit. It’s also demeaning to two great athletes, and two of the best women to play the game.

2 Responses to “Rafa Nadal First Round Wimbledon Loss: An Unbelievable “Shock or Not?””

  • David says:

    What a weird day at Wimbledon! But I must confess, some things that seemed shocking were really not…

    Caroline Wozniacki bageled another player – Shock or Not? Shock SHOCK

    Exactly.

    Monica Puig defeats Sara Errani– Shock or Not? Shock NOT

    Puig brings a big game to the big stage, as witnessed at the French. Errani’s game doesn’t translate to grass. It all adds up. (yes I brought this up in the popcorn entry, he says as he pats his back…)

    Lleyton Hewitt defeats Stan Wawrinka – Shock or Not? Shock NOT

    Hewitt also brings his best to the big stage. He’s a grass court specialist these days, having won almost as many career grass matches as the Fed. Grass is Stan’s worst surface, and he has played way too much tennis in the past few months (victim of his own success). It all adds up.

    Steve Darcis defeats Rafael Nadal – Shock or Not? A Seismic Shock, yet slightly Not HOLY F#$@ SHOCK, BUT IN HINDSIGHT NOT

    You are 200% right on this. Great analysis.

    Good show for Darcis to step up to the plate and take the opportunity Rafa gave him. Rafa’s been a victim of his own success, like Stan (but on a slightly higher scale). If he pours so much into the clay season from now on, he’ll never win Wimbledon again. He’s just to old to pull the double anymore.

    The Serena Williams Apology Tour continues – Shock or Not? Shock NOT

    The press has been waiting for a TMZ moment, and they got it with Serena, the Serena/Maria thing, all of it. It’ll be beaten to death through the US Open.

    1. Victoria Azarenka goes all drama queen crying on the court when she seemed to devastatingly hurt her knee, and then plows through the rest of her match and acts as if nothing happened in her post-match interviews – NOT

    She’s worse than Serena. It’s a wonder she didn’t take a double injury time out for it. ESPN commentators, particularly Chris Evert, were flabbergasted that she did an interview right after the match and seemed no worse the wear after she CRIED on court.

    2. Petra Kvitova got pushed to the limit by a player ranked 90 spots below her – at Wimbledon. GOOD LORD

    I figured she’d get to the quarters simply because her draw was so flimsy. Even Coco took her to 6-4 in the third. It’s like she’s trying to lose.

    3. Donna Vekic gets slaughtered on a fast surface SHOCK

    She’s a very promising young player who shines on fast surfaces. Grass it seems is not one of them. She’s got plenty of time to improve, but this was surprising.

    4. Only one men’s match went the distance SHOCK AND NOT

    A lot of blowouts today. In part because of the 32 seed system, but still…

  • Rick May says:

    It’s a weird Wimbledon 2013, but it does keep life interesting. Bobby Reynolds taking Nole to a first set tiebreak? Hey, anything can happen this year. Thanks as always, Kevin, for your analysis–and David: ditto to you.

Leave a Reply

Captcha Verification * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Follow SFTennisFreak on Twitter
Blog Search