For the first time in his career, Rafael Nadal will wake today with a first-round loss at a grand slam against his name, but he is adamant that it will not be long before he is back to put that right.
The 12-time major champion was stunned by the unheralded world number 135 Steve Darcis on Wimbledon’s first day, losing in three sets but refusing to blame his problematic knee injury.
The Spaniard suffered a similarly surprising early exit at SW19 last year but was not seen for seven months afterwards as his much publicised knee problems caught up with him.
He was not willing to talk specifics yesterday, but signed off by saying he would not be away for long.
When asked when he would next be seen he said: “Not very late. Not that late, that’s for sure.”
Nadal won seven of the nine tournaments he played on clay after his return from injury – making the final in the other two.
With such a punishing run behind him he was asked if his build-up to Wimbledon had been too intense, but he was keen to silence that talk.
“Six hours ago it was a perfect calendar, now it is a very negative calendar,” he added.
“I played when I had the feeling to play. I arrived at Wimbledon knowing that this year would be harder than ever and it really was.
“My season has been fantastic, much better than I thought five months ago. I am happy about everything.”
While Nadal was heading back home to Mallorca, last year’s finalists, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, were making plans for the next round.
Murray was a three-set winner over Benjamin Becker, while seven-time champion Federer saw off Victor Hanescu in little over an hour.
“I thought overall I played a good match, no hiccups on the serve,” the Swiss said.
“I returned well, sometimes aggressive, sometimes with the chip the way I usually do it on the grass anyway.
“Then I was moving pretty well even though I thought it was quite slippery because it is opening Monday.”
Elsewhere there were victories for, amongst others, last year’s semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jerzy Janowicz, Nicolas Almagro and Marin Cilic.
Perhaps the most impressive, though, was Lleyton Hewitt’s success over the 11th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka.
Whenever Hewitt returns to the venue he triumphed at in 2002 he seems to answer questions about retirement, but the veteran Australian managed to keep them at bay for another year as he prevailed in straight sets.
Today’s play sees world number one Novak Djokovic turn out for the first time against Florian Mayer, while David Ferrer, the fourth seed, takes on Martin Alund.
Juan Martin del Potro will look to make good of his immense talent when he meets Albert Ramos, while the man known as ’Baby Fed’, Grigor Dimitrov, faces Simone Bolelli.