Defending champion Rafael Nadal made an emphatic start to his bid for a third Wimbledon title, while five-time winner Venus Williams was back in the old routine with a dominant display before torrential rain caused chaos on Monday.
Nadal, fresh from a record-equalling sixth French Open, was only troubled briefly by America’s Michael Russell as he cantered to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 first round win.
The Spaniard was joined in the second round by fourth seed Andy Murray who survived a nervous start to defeat Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0.
Murray had to play the whole of his match “indoors” after Centre Court’s £80-million roof was closed due to the heavy downpour in south-west London.
But the rain forced many matches to be suspended on the outside courts, with 31 of the 64 scheduled ties still to be completed.
Before the showers, Nadal unleashed 35 winners to crush Russell and set up a second round meeting with Ryan Sweeting of the United States.
The world number one is favourite to win Wimbledon — and claim his 11th Grand Slam crown in the process — but Nadal refuses to contemplate another famous triumph here just yet.
“Let’s not talk about what might happen in 12 days. I might be here or I might be home fishing in Majorca,” Nadal said.
“I have played Sweeting twice this year at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells. He is a good player. I have seen him winning matches.”
What it takes to win
Elsewhere, Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych — beaten by Nadal in last year’s final — stormed through with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Italy’s Filippo Volandri.
French ninth seed Gael Monfils defeated Germany’s Matthias Bachinger 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 and Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss 14th seed, beat Italy’s Potito Starace 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Like Nadal, Venus Williams knows what it takes to lift the trophy in south-west London and the 23rd seed wasted little time disposing of Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, 6-3, 6-1.
Williams, showing no signs of the hip injury which kept her off the tour for five months until her Eastbourne return last week, also raised eyebrows with her choice of a loose-fitting, zipped-up, baggy outfit.
“Coming into any major there is a bit of tension and because I haven’t played a lot. I think that adds a little pressure on me,” Venus said.
“But it’s always great to be back. I think playing a few matches at Eastbourne helped me feel comfortable here.”
Williams now takes on 40-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm who became the second oldest winner of a singles match at Wimbledon with her 6-0, 7-5 demolition of British wild card Katie O’Brien.
‘Already a miracle’
Date-Krumm, a semifinalist at the All England Club in 1996 and who made her debut in 1989, had the honour of playing the first match on the new Court Three which has replaced the old Court Two, the former Graveyard of the Champions.
“I remember 1996 on the Centre Court. I played against Steffi Graf and it was in darkness,” recalled the Japanese of the year she last won a Wimbledon match.
“We played over two days. It was a big memory for me. Then after 15 years I win in the first round and it’s already a miracle.”
Vera Zvonareva, beaten by Serena Williams in last year’s final, made a winning return as the Russian second seed defeated America’s Alison Riske 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.
Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone won under the Centre Court roof as the sixth seed defeated Australia’s Jelena Dokic 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
Russian 12th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat China’s Zhang Shuai 3-6, 6-3 6-4, while Israel’s 22nd seed Shahar Peer went down 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to Ksenia Pervak of Russia.
Russian 28th seed Ekaterina Makarova also lost, 2-6, 6-1, 8-6 against America’s Christina McHale and 17th seed Kaia Kanepi fell to Italy’s Sara Errani 6-1, 6-4. — AFP