Where are Wimbledon’s giantkillers?

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iol spt pic Steve Darcis

REUTERS

Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) and Steve Darcis of Belgium walk off the court after Nadal was defeated by Darcis in their men's singles first round tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Paris -Steve Darcis, Sergei Stakhovsky and Michelle Larcher De Brito stunned Wimbledon in 2013 when they knocked-out Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova respectively.

But all three failed to match those dizzy heights in the following 12 months.

One week ahead of the 2014 Wimbledon championships, AFP Sport looks at the struggles of the three players since their brief moments in the All England Club spotlight:

Steve Darcis (BEL)

- Darcis, the world number 135, stunned Rafael Nadal 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 in the first round, condemning the great Spaniard, who had just won an eighth French Open, to his first ever opening round loss at a major.

Nicknamed 'The Shark' - “because my astrology sign is fish. I love sharks” - he was then forced to withdraw from his second round match against Lukasz Kubot with a back injury.

iol spt pic Michelle Larcher De Brito

Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal reacts after winning a point in her women's singles tennis match against Maria Sharapova of Russia at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

REUTERS

After Wimbledon, Darcis was reduced to playing third-tier Future events, winning a paltry $2 160 for taking home the trophy in Mons in September.

He has not played since and has undergone two more shoulder operations with his ranking slipping to 389 in the world.

Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)

- The Ukrainian, who speaks five languages and relaxes by reading Russian literature, was 116 in the world when he went into Wimbledon.

But he shrugged off his humble ranking by serving and volleying his way to a 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) Centre Court win over seven-time champion Federer in the second round.

It ended the Swiss star's run of 36 straight Grand Slam quarter-finals and represented his worst loss at a major since a first round exit at the 2003 French Open.

iol spt pic Sergiy Stakhovsky

Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine ended Swiss ace Roger Federer's run of 36 straight Grand Slam quarter-finals. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

AP

Stakhovsky, the son of Kiev academics, went down 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 to Austria's Jurgen Melzer in the third round.

“It was quite hard for me because everyone wanted to chat. Everybody wanted a piece of me,” he complained.

Now at 93 in the world, Stakhovsky, a prominent critic of Russia's role in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, has slumped at the Grand Slams since his win over Federer.

He lost in the first round at the US Open in 2013 as well as this year's Australian and French Opens.

Michelle Larcher De Brito (POR)

- Portuguese qualifier De Brito, the world number 131 this time last year, put out 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, the third seed, 6-3, 6-4 on a slippery Court Two.

The 20-year-old Portuguese was dubbed Wimbledon's 'scream queen' and mocked by fans when her banshee wailing first shattered the peace and quiet of the genteel All England Club in 2009.

But her win justified the years of expectation.

“When I was 16 I was in the top 100 and everybody was comparing me to Martina Hingis, expecting me to win a Grand Slam at that age,” she said.

“But that doesn't happen anymore, winning Grand Slams so young. Tennis is so competitive now and so hard, it's hard to stay there.”

She was right. Her moment in the spotlight was brief and she was beaten by Italy's Karin Knapp in the next round.

De Brito has stalled since last summer. Her first round win over Eleni Daniilidou at the US Open in August was her most recent on the WTA Tour and in 2014 she has been relegated to mainly second-level ITF events.

Sapa-AFP


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