June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Petra Kvitova overcame her nerves to start the defense of her Wimbledon tennis title with a win against Akgul Amanmuradova.
Four-time champion Serena Williams won to advance to the second round, and second seed Victoria Azarenka beat American Irina Falconi. French Open title holder Rafael Nadal pushed through a slow start to defeat Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci, while fourth-seeded Andy Murray eased past Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko.
Fourth-seeded Kvitova of the Czech Republic won 6-4, 6-4 against Amanmuradova, who is ranked 96th in the world and is from Uzbekistan, on Centre Court at the All England Club in southwest London.
“In the beginning, I was so nervous,” Kvitova said in a televised interview. “It was my first match on the grass here. I had many mistakes, but then I tried to play my game and go forward.”
Watched by her parents from the royal box, Kvitova trailed 4-1 before turning things around against Amanmuradova, who’s never won at Wimbledon in five attempts. Kvitova, one of 11 Grand Slam champions in the women’s draw, clenched her fist as she took the first set.
The left-hander, the only player in the women’s top 10 yet to reach a final this season, broke serve in the opening game of the second set. Kvitova wasted a match point at 5-3 and then had to wait through a 28-minute rain suspension before finishing off the match.
It was the first of two times today that rain forced play to stop. An evening downpour caused the second disruption, and play could not resume because of darkness.
Playing on Court 2, Williams was never in trouble against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who has not beaten a top-10 player in 21 matches. The American, who won the last of her 13 major singles championships at Wimbledon in 2010, beat the Czech 6-2, 6-4, producing 24 winners.
Yesterday, Serena’s sister and five-time champion Venus Williams was knocked out in the first round by Russia’s Elena Vesnina, her earliest loss on the London grass since 1997. Serena Williams is now 47-1 in Grand Slam opening rounds. Her only defeat in the first round of a major came last month at Roland Garros in Paris, when she lost to France’s Virginie Razzano.
Nadal lost the first four games of his match against fellow left-hander Bellucci before capturing the first set in a tiebreaker and going on to win 7-6 (7-0), 6-2, 6-3 on Centre Court.
“I was a little bit unlucky at the start of the match,” Nadal said in a televised interview. “He had a few good serves, and after that I had more mistakes than usual.”
The 26-year-old Spaniard, a two-time Wimbledon champion, made 27 unforced errors, compared with 16 for Bellucci.
Murray, the No. 4 seed from Britain, defeated Davydenko 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 as he began his annual bid to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win on the London grass courts.
“The first two sets were very good,” Murray said in a televised interview. “I got off to a great start, and then relaxed.”
Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, defeated the 22-year-old Falconi 6-1, 6-4. The American is now 0-6 against players in the top 10.
The Belarussian, 22, reached the semifinal last year, where she lost to Kvitova. Azarenka trails Maria Sharapova in the women’s rankings, and has a chance to regain the top spot should she reach the quarterfinals and other results go her way.
Americans Mardy Fish and Brian Baker advanced to the second round. Fish is playing in his first tournament since a May 23 heart procedure.
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Tsonga reached the semifinals last year by becoming the first player to come back from two sets down to defeat Roger Federer.
Losses by Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Matt Ebden mean there are no Australian men in the second round of Wimbledon for the first time since 1938.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com