LONDON: Top-seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon second round yesterday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Djokovic, playing for the first time since his French Open final defeat to Rafael Nadal, will face either America’s Ryan Harrison or Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan for a place in the last-32. However, the world number one admitted to being nervous as he gradually found his rhythm and the range of his ground strokes.
“In the opening games I missed some overheads and I was nervous, it’s normal,” said Djokovic. “I haven’t played an official match on grass for 12 months. Ferrero is never easy to play against on any surface, so to win in straight sets is a good result.”
Six-time champion Roger Federer began his pursuit of equalling Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles by beating Albert Ramos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
In other matches, David Nalbandian folded 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 against Serbian eighth-seed Janko Tipsarevic, while 17-seed Fernando Verdasco beat Jimmy Wang in straight sets 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-5.
France’s Richard Gasquet also made easy work of his first-round outing, beating German Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
Sharapova continues prime form
In the ladies’ singles matches, tournament favourite Maria Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam with victory at the French Open eased past Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 6-3.
The 25-year-old world number one will face Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova, who reached the semi-finals in 2010, in the last-64.
“It’s always difficult when you have had no matches on grass before Wimbledon,” said Sharapova, who is hoping to continue her good form. “It can be tricky but you just focus on what you have to do.”
Venus sent packing
Meanwhile, five-time champion Venus Williams suffered her worst Wimbledon defeat in 15 years slumping to defeat at the hands of Russia’s Elena Vesnina. Williams lost 6-1, 6-3 to the 79th-ranked Russian in what was her first opening-round loss at the All England Club since her 1997 bow.
However, the former world number one believes she can still compete at the top level despite her ranking having slipped to 58.
“There’s no way I will give up,” said Williams. “That’s not me. I don’t have time to feel negative. I am as tough as nails and I don’t have time to be sorry for myself.”
Stosur, Li cruise into second round
In other ladies’ singles matches, Samantha Stosur cruised past Spain’s 40th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3 while Chinese 11th seed Li Na enjoyed an emphatic 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan.
Also through to the second round was third-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska who breezed past Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-3.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.
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