London: World No.1 Rafael Nadal breezed into the Wimbledon second round Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title.
Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, also managed to avoid falling victim to a player ranked outside the world top 100 for what would have been the fifth time in his last six visits to the All England Club.
“It’s great always to play here in Wimbledon, especially on Centre Court,” said Nadal after seeing off World No.127 Sela. “I’m just happy to be through of course and yes, this match gives me positive feelings. It’s very important to start with a straight sets victory.”
Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro made it nine first round wins in nine appearances at the tournament, breezing past Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Del Potro next faces Feliciano Lopez of Spain who Tuesday set a record of playing 66 consecutive Grand Slams when he eased past Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. The earlier record belonged to Roger Federer who had played in 65 consecutive Grand Slams. Left-handed Lopez made his debut at the Majors at the 2001 French Open.
German fourth seed Alexander Zverev eased past World No. 103 James Duckworth of Australia 7-5, 6-2, 6-0. Zverev, who made the last 16 in 2017, goes on to face Taylor Fritz of the United States.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza opened her title defence with a 6-2, 7-5 win over British wild card Naomi Broady. But it was curtains for two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova who was beaten by Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who famously stunned Nadal at the tournament in 2014, marked his 50th match at the Majors with a 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Eugenie Bouchard, the runner-up in 2014 before her career went into a tailspin, reached the second round with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory over British wild card Gabriella Taylor while World No.1 Simona Halep easily saw of the challenge of Kurumi Nara 6-2, 6-4. Elsewhere, Angelique Kerber, a former World No.1, saw off fellow former Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-3.
Earlier in a match played late Monday evening out of form and a set down to Grigor Dimitrov after just 23 minutes, Swiss Stan Wawrinka staged a remarkable fightback to oust the sixth seed. Wawrinka won 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
There was something old, something new and something blue on show Monday as Serena Williams swapped the skin-tight catsuit for a more conservative look on her return to Wimbledon for the first time since becoming a mum.
The American proved she had lost none of her old warrior skills as she overcame gusting winds and a tumble on Court One’s manicured lawn to outclass tricky opponent Arantxa Rus 7-5, 6-3 in the first round.
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