Just a couple weeks ago, it looked like Rafael Nadal had made a full comeback at the French Open where he won his 8th title in Paris, his 12th Major Championship. But on Monday, the two time Wimbledon Champion exited the tournament in the first round at the hands of Steve Darcis of Belgium.
After a long absence due to injury, Nadal worked himself back into shape and found his stride on the clay courts leading up to the French Open, but the combination of Darcis' strong play and Nadal not playing up to his form, the result was a, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 defeat. It is not surprising that Darcis played the Spaniard tough but it is surprising the level of domination he imposed.
It begs the question, is Nadal 100 percent healthy? Despite what appeared to be issues with movement on the court and his left leg, he made no reference to injury after the match, “I answered this question three times or four times already. I’m not going to talk about my knee this afternoon. Only thing that can say today is 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 any excuse when I’m losing a match like I lost today. He deserves not one excuse.”
Many looked forward and ahead to a potential Nadal-Federer quarterfinal match up. Now, Federer looks to be in the driver's seat in his portion of the draw and would not have to face one of the "Big Four" until a possible match with Andy Murray in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Nadal will look to regroup and turn his attention back to the hard courts with one major left, the U.S. Open.