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Stunning upsets good for the fans

By Scott Fowler
sfolwer@charlotteobserver.com
Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.

Noting the sports world:

•  One of the best things about sports is the lurking potential of a lightning-bolt upset. It is what makes the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament so enjoyable, as well as the Kentucky Derby and the Olympic men’s 100 final. When there is no best-of-7 series to sort wheat from chaff – when it all depends on a few moments on a single day – anything can happen.

Anything happened again on Monday, when unknown Belgian Steve Darcis shocked Rafael Nadal in the first round at Wimbledon. Not only did Darcis – who is not even ranked in the top 100 – give Nadal an opening-round loss in a major for the first time ever, but he did so in straight sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Nadal’s backhand was way off. Darcis’s serve was on. Darcis found some confidence and rode it well, and suddenly Nadal was one-and-done at Wimbledon. It was startling.

Nobody will benefit more from that loss more than Roger Federer, who is trying to win a record eighth Wimbledon title but has a serious matchup problem against Nadal. Federer likely was going to meet Nadal in the quarterfinals and now has a far easier road to at least the semifinals.

•  Speaking of tennis, this blows my mind: No U.S. man has won a major since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003. That’s 0-for-38 and soon to be 0-for-39, because no American is going to win this Wimbledon, either. Men’s tennis today is played at a higher level than it ever has been played before, but without a U.S. male equivalent to Serena Williams it suffers in popularity here.

•  My colleague Tom Sorensen and I like to go at each other in print occasionally on various topics. Watch for another edition in Thursday’s newspaper and online at CharlotteObserver.com as we debate which player the Bobcats should pick with their No. 4 overall selection in the NBA draft that night.

•  I wish some NBA team would use a second-round pick Thursday on former Davidson big man Jake Cohen. Cohen, a two-time Southern Conference player of the year who is far more versatile than most 6-10 players, certainly isn’t going to be an NBA starter anywhere. But he’s good enough that he could make an NBA roster given the right opportunity.

•  Nice move by the NFL to say that the league leader in sacks each season will now receive the Deacon Jones award, after the late, great NFL defensive end.

I met Jones only once, in 2004 at a Charlotte Touchdown Club event, but it was a memorable conversation. Jones said today’s NFL players were too soft, proclaiming: “These girls who play the NFL game today ought to be ashamed of taking all that money!”

•  Did you catch Bubba Watson playing the caddie blame game in Sunday’s PGA Tour event? Watson, in the midst of a triple bogey on No. 16 that lost the tournament for him, was caught by CBS cameras repeatedly laying into his caddie with a vicious stream of sarcasm. I agreed with commentator David Feherty, who said on-air after one of Watson’s errant shots on the hole: “Hey, you hit it, bud.”

Scott Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @Scott_Fowler
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