The Fabulous Mr. Darcis: The Belgian Who Beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon


Steve Darcis of Belgium celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX10ZEW



You would cheer too if you were ranked 135th in the world of professional tennis, and you'd just beaten one of greatest tennis players around, Spain's Rafael Nadal. That's exactly what Steve Darcis did Monday at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London.

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Even the man himself was surprised.

At a post-match news conference, Darcis, whose nickname is apparently "The Shark," put in bluntly: "No one expected me to win today, I think."

That's probably an understatement.

Okay, I'll ask it for you: just who the heck is Steve Darcis? (PRON: darr-SEE).

"A relatively little known Belgian," says Chris Dennis, who is courtside at Wimbledon for the BBC World Service. "He's 29, a right-hander, and he's from the French speaking part of Belgium…a little place called Liege, a very quaint town."

Ah, Liege.

That's where Charlemagne may, or may not, have been born. It's also a place that's got really good waffles, even by Belgian standards. Full disclosure: I lived in Belgium for a couple of years.

Anyway, Liege now is also semi-famous for being the home of Steve Darcis, the Giant-Killer.

To be fair, Darcis' win hardly vaults him onto the same Belgian tennis pedestal as Justine Henin or Kim Clijsters. But if Belgian radio was any indication, there was great excitement Tuesday about Darcis' win.

Anchors and reporters read out the headlines from the British sports pages, which called the match the "Shock of the Century," and referred to Darcis as "Nowhere Man."

Nowhere man may be a bit unfair. Darcis has been on tour for a while now. He has two wins to his credit, but has never made it beyond the first few rounds of any of the major tournaments.

Darcis told Belgian radio this morning: "I feel great. I slept well."

They asked him: "Maybe you had a little beer?"

"Yeah, of course," Darcis laughed. "After a day like that, you need a beer."

Spoken like a true Belgian. The country is known, after all, for its hoppy goodness.

Next up for Darcis is Lukasz Kublot of Belgian. I emailed a tennis-loving Belgian friend of mine, to ask if she's excited about Darcis' next match.

"The win against Nadal was the most beautiful victory of his career," she wrote back. "Don't expect to hear from him again, though."