LONDON – Rafael Nadal said his shock first-round defeat by Steve Darcis at Wimbledon was “not a tragedy” and refused to blame his exit on his persistent knee injury.
While Darcis, the world number 135, played some inspired tennis, Spain’s two-time champion was clearly hampered.
“It’s tough losing in the first round, but life continues,” Nadal said.
“All I want to do is congratulate Steve Darcis, he played a fantastic match. Talking about my knee is an excuse and I don’t want to use excuses.”
Fifth seed Nadal’s loss comes just two weeks after he won a record eighth French Open. It is the first time Nadal has lost in the first round of the 35 grand slam tournaments he has entered.
Nadal’s exit potentially gives Britain’s Andy Murray an easier route to the final as they were in the same side of the draw.
Nadal was playing his first competitive grass court match since losing to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon last year.
And he was badly out of sorts as he went down 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 to Belgian Darcis, barely able to use his backhand and limping at times.
But Nadal was clearly irritated by repeated suggestions from journalists that his knee was entirely to blame.
And he also reacted tetchily to suggestions he had focused too much on the clay-court season and not prepared for Wimbledon thoroughly enough.
“On grass it’s difficult to adapt your game when you don’t have the chance to play before and I didn’t find my rhythm,” said Nadal (27) who decided to rest instead of playing the grass court tournament in Halle, Germany.
“The calendar was for me perfect, winning seven tournaments out of nine (after his comeback from injury).
“A couple of weeks ago I was in a fantastic situation (Nadal won the French Open for an eighth time) and now I’ve lost in the first round. But I try my best in every tournament. People only remember victories and I don’t want to remember the losses.”