Venus Williams, Nadal, Murray Win as Rain Curtails Wimbledon Opening Day
Williams, who made her comeback from injury last week, beat Akgul Amanmuradova, the world No. 97 from Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-1. Nadal defeated Michael Russell of the U.S. 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, while Murray came from a set down to beat Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 on Centre Court, which had a closed roof because of rain in London.
Showers stopped outdoor play at 5 p.m. local time yesterday and tournament organizers postponed all outside matches at 7:15 p.m. On the only covered court, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and Murray followed Nadal into round two.
Williams reached last week’s quarterfinals at Eastbourne, where she lost to Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia for the first time in 11 matches. Williams, 31, had been sidelined with hip and abdominal injuries since the Australian Open in January.
“The few matches in Eastbourne helped me feel pretty comfortable here,” she told reporters after lifting her Wimbledon record to 69-9 in 15 appearances.
Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, who lost last year’s final to Serena Williams, overcame 20-year-old American Alison Riske, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.
Nadal’s Slow Start
Top-seeded Nadal of Spain lost the first two games before beating the 33-year-old Russell. Nadal, 25, is trying to be the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1978 through 1980 to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in three straight years.
Nadal, who’s never lost a first-round match in a Grand Slam event, won in 2008 and 2010.
“I started, in my opinion, trying to play too fast in the beginning,” Nadal said. “I had a few mistakes with the backhand, with the forehand. So he had the break.”
Serena Williams begins her title defense today against Aravane Rezai of France in her first major for a year. Williams sustained a foot injury shortly after winning her fourth title at the All England Club and had treatment for lung blood clots in February.
In other matches today, Roger Federer of Switzerland starts his quest for a seventh title against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan and No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic plays France’s Jeremy Chardy. Yesterday’s unplayed matches -- including Andy Roddick of the U.S. against Germany’s Andreas Beck -- were rescheduled for today.
Italy’s Schiavone, who lost to China’s Li Na in Paris in this year’s championship match, beat Dokic for the first time in five attempts, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, Elena Vesnina of Russia and Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili also advanced.
Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 12th seed, beat China’s Zhang Shuai in three sets. Another Russian, Ksenia Pervak, upset Israel’s Shahar Peer, the 22nd seed, and American Christina McHale ousted Ekaterina Makarova, the 28th seed from Russia.
Kimiko Date-Krumm, the oldest woman in the draw at 40, defeated Katie O’Brien, a 25-year-old Briton. The Japanese player first appeared at Wimbledon in 1989, when 34 of the women in this year’s tournament hadn’t been born.
In the last match of the day, Gimeno-Traver used his forehand to take control of the first set with Murray, who had never lost his opening-round match at Wimbledon. With the roof closed and no wind or weather to deal with, the Spaniard ran around his backhand to hit winners.
After getting a break in the second set, Murray was able to run away with the match, not losing a game in the third or fourth sets after Gimeno-Traver got treatment for a knee injury.
“I played some really good tennis in the third and fourth sets,” Murray told reporters. “I just sort of changed the way I was playing and the way I was returning.”
Last year’s runner-up, sixth seed Tomas Berdych, defeated Italy’s Filippo Volandri 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. The Czech Republic native beat Federer and Djokovic to reach the 2010 final.
American Mardy Fish, seeded 10th, beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. France’s No. 9 seed Gael Monfils and 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland advanced in straight sets, while Germany’s Rainer Schuettler upset 30th seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in three sets.
Canada’s Milos Raonic, who has risen to 26th on the men’s ATP World Tour from 156th at the start of the year, beat France’s Marc Gicquel 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Raonic, 21, was making his Wimbledon debut.
“The tournament’s been around for 125 years, and I think that’s something pretty special,” Raonic told reporters. “The best players find a way to win here.”
Play on the outside courts today is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. local time. Centre Court action starts an hour later.
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