Former champions Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic cruised in their Wimbledon openers on Tuesday. In his first match since capturing his 11th French Open, Nadal brushed aside Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
“I had a long clay-court season, a lot of matches. As you know, I had lot of problems in terms of physical injuries during my career. Of course, I will love to play on Queen’s. That was my schedule, agenda. But after playing the final of Roland Garros and playing so many matches on clay, for my knees, the drastic changes are not good. So we decided to stop couple of days, then to start step by step on grass,” Nadal said.
“I did the same last year. Worked well. I lost here in the fourth round. But I felt I was in a position to fight for important things. I repeat: for me the most important thing is being healthy. That’s the priority always.”
Nadal will next meet Mikhail Kukushkin who won in four over Vasek Pospisil. Nadal has struggled of late at Wimbledon to lesser-known players, and the Spaniard hasn’t made the quarterfinals since finishing runner-up in 2011.
The man who beat Rafa in that final was Novak Djokovic. And after a bumpy first half of the year, the Serb could be rounding into form. Today, the 3-time champion blew out Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.
“I made him play a lot on his service games. I thought I served accurately. Quite swirly conditions. Difficult to play. First match at Wimbledon. You always want to start off well,” Djokovic said. “I’ve never played him before, so it took a little bit of time to kind of get used to his pace and rhythm. But just overall was quite solid performance.”
Djokovic could face British No. 1 Kyle Edmund on Saturday. The 23-year-old Edmund also enjoyed an easy afternoon beating Australian Alex Bolt 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.
Juan Martin del Potro also had little trouble in a straight set victory over Peter Gojowczyk.
Youngsters Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov, Alex De Minaur and Frances Tiafoe were also winners. Kyrgios fired a career-best 42 aces in a win over Denis Istomin. And Alexander Zverev was sharp in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-0 demolition over James Duckworth.
Two more Top 10 seeds tumbled, however. No. 7 Dominic Thiem had to retire down two sets to Marcos Baghdatis due to a back issue.
And No. 10 David Goffin was bounced by Australian Matt Ebden 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Jack Sock also fell suffering his fourth straight Grand Slam first round exit blowing a two set lead to Matteo Berrettini. Sock has just five match wins on the year.
On Wednesday, the second round opens with the return of 8-time champion Roger Federer who faces recent Eastbourne finalist Lukas Lacko. Marin Cilic is on to Guido Pella, Stan Wawrinka takes on Thomas Fabbiano and big men Kevin Anderson, Milos Raonic, Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey and John Isner are all on court.
WEDNESDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT – 1:00PM
1. Karolina Pliskova v Victoria Azarenka
2. Roger Federer v Lukas Lacko
3. Viktoriya Tomova v Serena Williams
NO.1 COURT – 1:00PM
1. Alexandra Dulgheru v Venus Williams
2. Ekaterina Makarova v Caroline Wozniacki
3. Marin Cilic v Guido Pella
NO.2 COURT – 11:30AM
1. John Millman v Milos Raonic
2. Agnieszka Radwanska v Lucie Safarova
3. Andreas Seppi v Kevin Anderson
4. Lesia Tsurenko v Barbora Strycova
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