LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) - In terms of career prize money, Rafa Nadal and Steve Darcis are $54 million apart but it was the Belgian who had the bigger smile on Monday after beating the former champion at Wimbledon.
The archetypal journeyman player, who has battled through a series of injuries in a long and not especially fruitful career, Darcis could not have looked happier as he reflected on the shock upset he had produced on Wimbledon’s opening day.
“I think a lot of people will talk about this match in a few years, and also me I think,” the 29-year-old Darcis beamed after his 7-6(4) 7-6(8) 6-4 triumph. “It was a great, great moment.”
Darcis, who has earned $1.75 million and two titles in a professional career dating back to 2003, had, at least, already tasted success on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
Last year, in the opening match of the London Olympics, he defeated sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-4 at the All England Club, his only previous victory over a top-10 player.
“I think it was my best memory, I have to say. First top 10, you don’t forget. Here is the second one, so I will try to continue a little bit here.”
The Anderlecht fan, nicknamed ‘The Shark’, was gracious about Nadal, pointing out the twice former champion’s apparent physical worries even though the Spaniard refused to make excuses of his own.
“Maybe he was not in the best shape ever, maybe he didn’t play his best match, but I have to be proud of me, I think,” Darcis said. “I played a great match and I fought from the beginning till the end, and I played unbelievable tennis.”
His nickname, he explained, came from a tattoo on his right shoulder which, in turn, was inspired by his love of fishing and his astrological sign - Pisces.
Would he like to swim in a shark cage, one reporter asked. Darcis beamed. “Maybe someday.”
First up though, with the bait of adding at least $58,000 to his earnings, is the second round at Wimbledon where unseeded Pole Lukasz Kubot, ranked just five places above Darcis, awaits him. (Editing by Martyn Herman)