WORLD NUMBER ONE Rafael Nadal buried the misery of his 2013 Wimbledon first round exit to set up a rematch with Lukas Rosol, the Czech who condemned him to a humiliating second round loss in 2012.
Second seed Nadal, fresh from his ninth French Open triumph and bidding for a 15th Grand Slam title, became only the 11th man to record 700 tour wins as he beat Slovakia’s world number 51 Martin Klizan, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
Also going through, on Tuesday, were fellow past champions, seven-time winner Roger Federer, Serena Williams, a five-time champion, and Maria Sharapova whose breakthrough title in London came as a 17-year-old back in 2004.
Nadal, champion in 2008 and 2010, was knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon last year by Steve Darcis, a Belgian journeyman who hasn’t won a match since. 12 months earlier, Rosol had stunned him in five sets, a shattering defeat which forced Nadal out of the sport for seven months to rest his battered knees. He said:
Rosol is a very dangerous player, very strong, very powerful shots from the baseline and I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances to win.”
Federer began his campaign for an eighth title with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Paolo Lorenzi, the hapless Italian who has now lost all of his 13 Grand Slam matches. The fourth-seed, a 17-time major winner, had lost to Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovksy in the second round 12 months ago for his earliest defeat at the tournament since 2002.
But there was never a hint of a repeat of that disaster on Tuesday as the 32-year-old Swiss took victory on a sixth match point having fired nine aces and 36 winners. ”It’s always good to win the first round because the court can be slippery sometimes,” said Federer, who goes on to face Luxembourg qualifier Gilles Muller.
Federer’s compatriot, Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka also reached the second round with a first win at the tournament since 2011. Wawrinka, the world number three but seeded five at the All England Club in a reflection of his grasscourt struggles, fired 18 aces and 39 winners in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa and next meets Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun.
French Open champion and fifth seed Sharapova raced to a 6-1, 6-0 rout of British wild card Samantha Murray, the world number 247. Sharapova, who was knocked out in the second round last year, next faces Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky.
“There’s always a bit more tension coming into the first round of a Grand Slam. It was such a quick turnaround. Just a couple weeks ago you’re on the clay, coming onto the grass, with the new grass and new surface, it’s a different feeling,” said the Russian.
Top seed Serena Williams was playing for the first time since her embarrassing French Open second round exit against Garbine Muguruza and the world number one needed only 61 minutes on Centre Court to ease past fellow American Anna Tatishvili 6-1, 6-2.
Serena admitted she had struggled a little with the slick grasscourt, occasionally losing her footing and suffering a few bumps and bruises. ”I think I’ll be OK. I’ll see tomorrow. It was weird. I was fell so many times,” she said.
Retired women’s champion Marion Bartoli returned to Centre Court. The Frenchwoman performed the coin toss ahead of the first round match between Sabine Lisicki, the German she defeated in the final last year, and Israel’s Julia Glushko. Lisicki was untroubled, winning 6-2, 6-1 in just 57 minutes.