Roger Federer began his campaign to equal Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles with a comfortable 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.
Third-seeded Federer suffered a shock quarter-final exit against Tomas Berdych last year, but never looked in trouble against tournament debutant Kukushkin.
The Swiss star fired down 12 aces and unleashed 53 winners in his quickfire win which took just an hour and 42 minutes on Centre Court. Meanwhile, three-time finalist Andy Roddick eased into the second round with a 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 win over German qualifier Andreas Beck.
Roddick was never at his best against the gutsy Beck on Court One, but the American eighth seed’s superior grasscourt skills eventually prevailed to set up a second-round clash.
Finally feeling close to 100 per cent after a shoulder injury forced him to miss the French Open, Roddick came back strongly and reached the semi-finals of the Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s two weeks ago.
Roddick, beaten by Federer in all of his Wimbledon finals, had insisted that humbling loss would not damage his confidence at the All England Club and he proved the point in a first round tie originally postponed on Monday due to rain.
Meanwhile, Gilles Simon of France defeated compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.
Ring-rusty Serena wins opener
Champion Serena Williams, playing just her third match in 11 months, struggled past Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the second round and broke down.
The 29-year-old, seeded seventh after missing almost a year because of a foot injury, was inconsolable as she walked off court and during her TV interview.
“I usually don’t cry, I don’t understand it. It’s been so hard, I never dreamt I’d be here,” said Williams.
“I just wanted to win at least one match here and since I’m not playing doubles it was a really big win for me.
“To be able to come back at Wimbledon is pretty awesome, I didn’t expect to play or do anything.”
Williams dropped the first two games of the match against Rezai before racing through the next six games to take the first set.
Desperate not to become only the second defending champion to lose in the first round, Williams shrugged off her stamina and timing problems to dominate the final set, claiming victory with her 13th ace in the match.
Mirza crashes out
India’s Sania Mirza was knocked out, losing 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in the first round to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.
Playing with her left knee taped up, Mirza, 24, gave Razzano a close run on a breezy Court 9 at the All England Club, where she enjoyed plenty of Indian support.
In the first set, Mirza broke twice for a 3-0 lead but Razzano broke back immediately and took the next game to love as the Indian played herself into trouble with unforced errors.
In the second set, again Mirza took an early lead and this time held it, breaking again to take the second set 6-2. The deciding set went with serve until Razzano broke for 4-3 only to hold her serve before breaking her Indian opponent to take the match.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2011.
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