LONDON: Top seed Novak Djokovic proved rock solid as he cruised past Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the second round of Wimbledon yesterday.
The Serb broke 34th-ranked Mayer’s opening service game and never looked troubled on Centre Court, wrapping up victory by swiping away a winning forehand.
Djokovic was back in action for the first time since losing a semi-final epic against Rafa Nadal at the French Open and looked sharp on the lush grass.
His next opponent will be an American in the form of either qualifier Bobby Reynolds or wildcard Steve Johnson.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal came under pressure yesterday to turn his back on Wimbledon if he wants to extend his career and preserve his reputation as one of the sport’s greatest and most-feared competitors.
The Spaniard suffered his first ever loss in the opening round of a Grand Slam when he slumped to a straight sets defeat to Belgium’s world number 135 Steve Darcis.
Twelve months ago, he was defeated in the second round by Czech number 100 Lukas Rosol, a shocker which forced him to take a seven-month break from the tour to rest his increasingly unreliable knees.
“He definitely has to consider whether grass has a future for him,” three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker told the BBC.
“I almost thought that he should contemplate not playing this year.”
Serena lets racquet talk
Five-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams insisted that her bitter, public feud with Maria Sharapova was not on her mind as she stormed into the second round.
World number one Serena racked-up her 32nd successive win with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella, but faced more questions over her controversial remarks about Sharapova’s romance with her ex-boyfriend, Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov.
“No, it hasn’t been a distraction. Like I said, I’m just here to focus on the tennis,” said the 31-year-old Serena.
“I am just here to play Wimbledon. It’s the premier tournament in the world, of the year, so that’s what’s most important.”
The American destroyed the hapless Minella, the world number 92 who has never defeated a top-30 player, let alone one of the calibre of Serena, whose French Open title three weeks ago took her majors haul to 16.
Victory was also her 75th in her last 78 matches, a run that stretches back to her shock first round departure at Roland Garros in 2012, the worst Grand Slam exit of her career.
Yesterday’s 32nd successive win took her to within just three of the record set by older sister Venus in 2000.
“I never think about the run, I just treat every match like a new one. It was special coming out as defending champion. I played great and I have some great memories.”
In another match, Li Na, the Chinese sixth seed, raced into the second round with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Michaella Krajicek.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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