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Nadal won’t blame injury for shock defeat to Belgian shark
Rafael Nadal refused to blame injury after crashing out of Wimbledon in the first round to Belgium’s Steve Darcis, a 1500-1 outsider, in straight sets yesterday (7-6, 7-6, 6-4), writes The Guardian’s Owen Gibson. “I tried my best out there in every moment. The opponent played well, I had my chances. I didn't make it," Nadal said. "The only thing that I can say today is to congratulate Steve Darcis. He played a fantastic match. Everything that I will say today about my knee is an excuse, and I don't like to put [forward] any excuse when I'm losing a match like I lost today." Darcis, ranked 130 places below Nadal, had lost in the first round in 12 of his 18 previous grand slam appearances and had hitherto enjoyed most success on the second-rung Challenger circuit. Prior to Monday, he said his best victory was against Tomas Berdych in the first round of the Olympics, also at Wimbledon, and the only other time he has beaten a player in the top 10. Asked what his first thought was when he saw he'd been drawn against Nadal, he said, simply: "shit!"(sic). But Darcis, who had only ever won once at Wimbledon before, said: "I fought from the beginning to the end and played unbelievable tennis You play tennis to play big matches, in a big stadium against unbelievable players. I enjoyed it from the first point to the end." For the 29-year-old nicknamed Shark, it was reward for a career spent battling against the tide: "I think I had many injuries, and that's why it was tough for me sometimes I had a good ranking sometimes. Then I had big problems, so I had to stop and come back all the time. It takes you a lot of energy. But I'm really motivated and I'm feeling really good for the last few months."