In the end Rafa Nadal will not have to worry about negotiating the treacherous path of a projected quarterfinal against Roger Federer, a semifinal against home favorite Andy Murray and a final against nemesis Novak Djokovic handed to him by his number-five seeding at this year’s Wimbledon.
The eight-time French Open winner fell at the first hurdle at the All England Club against 135-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis in straight sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. It was the first time the Mallorcan had ever been knocked out in the first round of a Grand Slam.
Concerned about the state of his troublesome knees, Nadal had opted not to play an official warm-up tournament on grass after his latest triumph on the Paris clay over two weeks ago.
Elsewhere on day one at Wimbledon the rest of the Spanish Armada fared little better. Although Nicolás Almagro sailed past Estonian Jürgen Zopp in straight sets, Pablo Andújar lost to France’s Adrian Mannarino; Guillermo García-López succumbed to Dustin Brown of Germany, and Albert Montañés fell in four to Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov. Fernando Verdasco did, however, carve out a four-set victory over another Belgian, Xavier Malisse.
In the women’s draw Carla Suárez Navarro overcame her fellow countrywoman Lourdes Domínguez Lino and Silvia Soler-Espinosa beat Japan’s Miskai Doi. But Estrella Cabeza Candela fell to Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki and Lara Arruabarrena lost to Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.