Nadal Loses Wimbledon 1st Round at 1/500 Odds

Wimbledon Championships

The 2013 Wimbledon 1st round match between Steve Darcis and Rafael Nadal was an unforgettable encounter that sent shockwaves through the tennis world. The match took place on June 24th 2013, on Court No. 1 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Steve Darcis, a relatively unknown Belgian player ranked who was ranked world number 135 at the time, faced the formidable Rafael Nadal, a multiple Grand Slam champion and one of the greatest tennis players in history.

Although best known for his dominance on clay courts, Nadal was considered a strong contender on grass as well, having previously won Wimbledon in 2008, so the odds on him were ridiculous at 1/500 at Boylesports, and even though Coral had him at 1/50, it still wasn’t worth a bet.

Some bookies didn’t even offer odds on Nadal at all he was such a firm favourite to win.

So when Steve Darcis dispatched Nadal (who had won the French Open 2 weeks earlier) in three straight sets, it was a huge surprise.

No one is thought to have wagered a significant amount either way, but even a few small stakes bets would have made this one a loser for the bookies as Steve Darcis was priced at 28/1.

How the Game Was Lost

Steve Darcis Beats Nadal

Carine06 from UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Both players started strongly in the first set, holding their serves and engaging in intense baseline rallies, but Darcis showed his intent early on by attacking Nadal’s second serve and keeping the pressure on the Spaniard. The set progressed to a tiebreak after neither player managed to break the other’s serve. Darcis maintained his composure during the tiebreak, hitting winners and forcing errors from Nadal, ultimately clinching the set 7-6(4).

The second set followed a similar pattern to the first, with both players holding their serves comfortably. Darcis continued to play aggressively, hitting powerful groundstrokes and coming to the net to finish points. Nadal pushed hard to break Darcis but was unable to capitalise on the few break point opportunities he had. Another tiebreak ensued, which turned out to be highly competitive. Darcis showed nerves of steel, saving set points and eventually securing the set 7-6(8), taking a commanding two-set lead.

Darcis went into the 3rd set full of confidence, keeping Nadal on the back foot with consistent serving and aggressive shot-making. Nadal, visibly struggling with his movement and seemingly troubled by his knee injury, found it challenging to counter Darcis’ relentless attack. Darcis seized an early break in the third set, capitalising on Nadal’s errors and taking a crucial lead. Nadal’s attempted to fight back and mount a comeback, but Darcis stayed composed, holding his nerve, and serving out the set 6-4 to clinch the match in straight sets.

In the end, Darcis beat Nadal 7-6, 7-6, 6-4, and to his credit, Nadal took it well, and refused to make excuses such as blaming the suspected knee injury despite being prompted by reporters. He merely congratulated Darcis and concluded that his opponent had played well.

Darcis didn’t manage to get through the next round, but he went down in history as causing one of the biggest upsets in the history of tennis.