WIMBLEDON, England — When play began at Wimbledon 11:30 a.m. local time Monday, John McEnroe was on BBC complaining about how Rafael Nadal — who had made nine finals in nine tournaments since returning in February — was seeded fifth, behind No. 4 David Ferrer, a lopsided loser to Nadal in the French Open final two weeks ago. It was “abysmal,” McEnroe said. Seven hours later, it was also irrelevant.
No. 1 Court was the place for all the drama on Day 1. Steve Darcis, a diminutive Belgian ranked No. 135, handed Nadal his first loss in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8), 6-4. Earlier on that court, Victoria Azarenka took a nasty fall that prompted a blood-curdling scream, but, after getting her right knee heavily taped, she finished off a 6-1, 6-2 win over Maria Joao Koehler. And finally on No. 1 Court, the 32-year-old Lleyton Hewitt continued his strong recent play on grass by ousting No. 11 Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Here are some of our favorite pictures from a surprisingly eventful Day 1 at The Championships.
Rafael Nadal: The Spaniard struggled with his movement throughout the match and couldn’t fight off Darcis’ gutsy firepower. Darcis hit a stunning 53 winners to just 24 unforced errors, while Nadal hit 32 winners to 24 unforced errors. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
Monica Puig: The big upset on the women’s side came from Puig, who knocked off No. 5 Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 to open play on Court 18. (Errani has never made it past the third round in Wimbledon in six appearances.) Asked if she was a national hero in Puerto Rico, the 19-year-old didn’t hesitate: “Yeah, basically.” (Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Victoria Azarenka: Azarenka was left sobbing on the ground after taking a bad fall. She was scheduled to have tests on her right knee later in the day. “I felt like my knee just turned to the other way, and it was just so nasty,” she said. “I was in such shock. For two minutes I had such a consistent pain that it just completely freaked me out.” (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)
Andy Murray: The 2012 finalist cruised past Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Afterward, the talk was all about Naddal, who was in Murray’s half of the draw. “I’d say as a fan of tennis, it’s probably disappointing that he’s out because he’s a fun guy to watch, and he brings a lot to the tournaments that he plays in,” Murray said. “He’s one of the best players that’s ever played, so it’s a shame in that respect. But I’m not here to worry about all of the other players just now. I just have to focus on myself, my matches, try to take care of them one at a time.” (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)
Roger Federer: The defending champion really didn’t have to take off his jacket for his opening round. He blew past Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 in an hour and nine minutes. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)
Condoleezza Rice and Pippa Middleton: What could they possibly be talking about? Really. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Jelena Jankovic: You wouldn’t know it by this picture, but Jankovic had a good day. She defeated Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-5. (Sang Tan/AP)
Lleyton Hewitt: The 2002 champion, 32, savored his victory over Wawrinka. Nadal and Wawrinka were in the same quarter, which also includes Federer. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova: She was tested and came through with flying colors, beating Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (5), 6-3. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki: She hit the deck, like many others on Day 1. But she routed Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-0, 6-2 as Rory McIlroy looked on. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal: “I tried my best,” Nadal said. “[It] was not possible. That’s all I can say. Just congratulate the opponent. At the end, [it] is not a tragedy. That is sport.” (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)