While controversy swirls around world No. 1 Serena Williams at Wimbledon after apology-resulting comments in a magazine and a feud with Maria Sharapova, the American just keeps on winning — Tuesday at the All England Club ringing-up her 32nd straight match of 2013 in moving into the second round.
“Being the defending champion is always special, knowing for 12 months you’re going to play at 1 o’clock on Tuesday,” said Serena after defeating Mandy Minella 6-1, 6-3.
“There’s so many ways I can improve and that I’ll need to improve if I want to be in the second week.”
Top 10 seeds joining the world No. 1 in the second round were No. 4 Aggie Radwanska rolling Austrian qualifier Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-1, No. 6 Li Na pushing aside former grasscourt titlist Michaella Krajicek 6-1, 6-1, and No. 7 Angie Kerber likewise sidestepping veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-4.
To the delight of British fans, one Top 10 seed did not make the second round as No. 10 Maria Kirilenko was stopped 6-3, 6-4 by Laura Robson.
“I was so nervous, right up until the last point,” Robson said. “I was walking to the net not totally sure if my forehand was in or not. That was a big one for me because of all the nerves and playing in front of my home crowd. I could have gone 5-1 up in the second and I lost my focus a little bit when I started thinking about winning. So I just tried to get back to focusing point by point.”
A handful of lower seeds were shown the exit Tuesday in upsets as Czech Karolina Pliskova defeated No. 13 Nadia Petrova, Bulgarian grass upset specialist Tsvetana Pironkova rocked No. 21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-1, Romanian Alexandra Cadantu topped No. 28 Tamira Paszek, and American wildcard Alison Riske advanced when No. 31 Romina Oprandi retired in the third set with an arm injury.
Other notables into the second round were No. 23 Sabine Lisicki over Slam winner Francesca Schiavone, No. 24 Peng Shuai stopping Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues, unseeded American Madison Keys beating Brit Heather Watson, and 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm rolling German qualifier Carina Witthoeft 6-0, 6-2.
“Women’s tennis, compared to our generation, is more speedy, more powerful,” said Date-Krumm, who mystified Witthoeft with her variety and fleetness of foot. “When I go to the gym I see everybody doing fitness training, and that’s why everybody is much stronger than before. But tennis is not only power, not only speed, and not only for young players. We need mental also. We need experience. That’s why it’s not only the younger players at the top now, I think.”
The top seeds cruised on the men’s side Tuesday, but three lower seeds were shown the door.
Orchestrating upsets were Croatian Ivan Dodig advancing when No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber retired in the fifth set citing the flu and exhaustion, Spaniard Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez straight-setting No. 19 Gilles Simon, and Aussie Bernard Tomic topping No. 21 Sam Querrey 6-3 in the fifth.
“He’s not somebody that’s just like a friend,” said Tomic of missing his father, who both the ATP and ITF banned from tournaments after he head-butted his son’s practice partner in the face earlier this year, sending him to the hospital. “It’s a huge tournament, and all of a sudden not to have someone there who’s been there for your whole life is very difficult. It’s all the ATP’s fault. I’m going to keep blaming them.”
Top 10-seeded players into the second round were No. 1 Novak Djokovic straight-setting German Florian Mayer, No. 4 David Ferrer defeating Argentine Martin Alund in four, No. 7 Tomas Berdych stopping Martin Klizan in straights, No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro easing past Albert Ramos, and No. 9 Richard Gasquet coming from a set down to beat Spaniard Marcel Granollers in four.
“Knowing his quality and knowing that we played in the quarterfinals last year gave me enough reason to obviously not underestimate him and respect the fact that I needed to be 100 percent focused from the start and try to have the control of the match,” Djokovic said of Mayer. “I played well in important moments.”
Del Potro continues to ease back into play after missing Madrid and the French Open with a virus.
“I feel okay, my first round against a lefty player. I think I played okay,” del Potro said. “In the third I played much better, trying to do my game, be aggressive all the time. I think it was a good match for the first round.”
Other seeds of note advancing were No. 13 Tommy Haas, No. 17 Milos Raonic, and No. 28 Jeremy Chardy continuing the disappointing 2013 of American Ryan Harrison in four sets.
In all-unseeded play American qualifier Bobby Reynolds outlasted American wildcard Steve Johnson in five, American qualifier Denis Kudla beat Aussie qualifier James Duckworth 6-1 in the fifth, Frenchman Michael Llodra defeated Jarkko Nieminen in an all-veteran affair, and James Blake surfaced to defeat Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker in straights.
Matches to watch for on Wednesday at the All England Club are (2) Victoria Azarenka coming off a scary first-round injury against veteran Flavia Pennetta, (6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Ernests Gulbis, the crafty Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. (3) Roger Federer, upset specialist Yen-Hsun Lu vs. (2) Andy Murray, Radek “The Worm” Stepanek vs. (24) Jerzy Janowicz, Canadian riser Eugenie Bouchard vs. (12) Ana Ivanovic, an upset alert in (32) Tommy Robredo vs. Nicolas Mahut, and an upset alert in (19) Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
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