Nadal survives fright on parade of champions

LONDON, (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova led a parade of former champions into the Wimbledon second round yesterday after Marion Bartoli briefly lit up Centre Court without swinging her racket.

An order of play overloaded with A-listers began with a tearful Bartoli milking a standing ovation from a packed Centre Court as she returned to the scene of her triumph last year.

Having retired a few weeks after her fairytale run at Wimbledon the Frenchwoman no longer has to contend with the stress and strain of the tour but for twice former champion Nadal and 2004 winner Sharapova, there is no respite. Just 16 days after claiming an unprecedented ninth French Open crown, Nadal was forced to fend off big-hitting Slovakian Martin Klizan in a ferocious Centre Court duel.

Wary of his hopes withering early again after winning only one match in his previous two visits to the grasscourt citadel, Nadal looked in peril as he lost the first set before catching fire to claim his 700th main tour win with a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory.

Russian fifth seed Sharapova, like Nadal, is also attempting to complete a daunting Roland Garros-Wimbledon double but unlike the Spaniard was able to conserve energy for the battles ahead with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of British wildcard Samantha Murray.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
 Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Roger Federer
Roger Federer

As he often does, seven-times champion Roger Federer, relegated to Court One for the day, stole the show with a dazzling 6-1 6-1 6-3 defeat of Italian journeyman Paolo Lorenzi.

Not to be outdone, world No.1 Serena Williams, who is tied with Federer on 17 grand slams, began her quest for a sixth Wimbledon crown with a 6-1 6-2 defeat of fellow American Anna Tatishvili.

“Hopefully I’ll get my bearings a little bit and get better,” Williams, who has struggled to scale the heights she achieved last year, told reporters.

In normal circumstances Bartoli would have played Centre Court’s opening match – the honour traditionally bestowed on the defending women’s champion on the first Tuesday of the slam.

She still kept her appointment, albeit clad in a summery cream outfit and platform shoes rather than tennis attire.

Holding her hand was a young player from the tennis academy set up by British player Elena Baltacha, who recently succumbed to cancer. It was a typically classy piece of organisation by the All England Club and a moving moment for Bartoli.

“I’m sorry I got so emotional – I couldn’t hold my tears being on the Centre Court and supporting #Rally4Bally at Wimbledon,” Bartoli said on Twitter.

As it turned out Sabine Lisicki, last year’s runner-up, performed the stand-in role beautifully, easing past Israel’s Julia Glushko 6-2 6-1.

For all the early theatre, it was Nadal who provided the day’s real drama as he flirted with danger.Trailing by a set and staring at two breaks points on his serve early in the second it seemed the 28-year-old’s recent grasscourt gremlins were returning to haunt him.Defeat by obscure German Dustin Brown in Halle this month had hardly fuelled Nadal’s confidence but he reacted with typical ferocity to win.

The world No.1, seeded two at Wimbledon, will now get the chance to gain revenge for his harrowing second round defeat by hard-hitting Czech Lukas Rosol two years ago.

“I am excited to be back here, to win a match at Wimbledon on Centre Court,” the 2008 and 2010 champion told reporters.

“When you go on court and you lost last year in the first round, the year before in the second round, I’m not going to lie it stays in your mind.”



Federer’s staggering Wimbledon record was rudely interrupted in the second round by Sergiy Stakhovsky last year but the 32-year-old Swiss looks in the mood for a title tilt after swatting aside Lorenzi for his 269th grand slam match victory.

“I’m very happy getting through my first round. I thought I played very well,” Federer, tied with American Pete Sampras on seven Wimbledon titles, said.

“What you want to feel is inspired and motivated. I’m trying to win the tournament, that’s what I’m here for.”

Stanislas Wawrinka can only marvel at fellow Swiss Federer’s feats at Wimbledon, but the fifth seed at least managed to avoid a sixth first-round exit on Tuesday, overpowering Portuguese claycourt specialist Joao Sousa 6-3 6-4 6-3.

Like Federer, 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt is contesting his 61st major and the 33-year-old showed his warrior-spirit remains undiminished with a four-set slog past Michal Przysiezny.

“You don’t get sick of coming out here and playing at Wimbledon,”

Hewitt, one of five Australian men to reach the second round, the most since 1999, said. Day Two’s biggest casualty was seventh-seeded Serbian former world number one Jelena Jankovic who managed a mere five games in her defeat by Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi.

There were no alarms for French Open runner-up Simona Halep as the third seed beat Teliana Pereira of Brazil 6-2 6-2.

American teenager Madison Keys, a dark horse for the title after winning in Eastbourne last week, cruised past Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig, while 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska completed her first round win over Romanian Andreea Mitu.

More in Sports

Batsman Marlon Samuels drives during his half-century against India on the fourth day of the opening Test on Sunday. (Photo courtesy WICB)

Windies suffer innings defeat after batting flops again

NORTH SOUND, Antigua, CMC – West Indies’ batting collapsed for the second time in as many days as India crushed them by an innings and 92 runs inside four days in the opening Test here yesterday to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

West Indies captain Jason Holder … said execution was at fault for his side’s capitulation.

Holder blames execution for heavy loss

NORTH SOUND, Antigua, CMC – West Indies captain Jason Holder yesterday flagged a number of glaring areas where he felt his team went wrong but said the biggest flaw was in “execution”, after they tumbled to a heavy innings and 92-run defeat to India within four days in the opening Test.

default placeholder

TT beat Guyana by five wickets in WICB Women’s T20

Anisa Mohammed starred with the ball as Trinidad and Tobago defeated Guyana by five wickets yesterday in the ongoing West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional Women’s T20 tournament played at the Providence National Stadium.

Action between D.C. Cesar Fox Secondary and Sir Leon Lessons in their quarterfinal matchup at the Bartica Community ground in the Digicel Schools Football Championship yesterday. (Orlando Charles photo)

George’s last-gasp goal propels Sir Leon Lessons to semis

A last gasp goal from David George propelled South Georgetown holders Sir Leon Lessons to a 3-2 quarterfinal win over Region Number seven’s D.C.

default placeholder

Charles inspires Zouks to third home Hero CPL win

A match-winning stand between Shane Watson and Johnson Charles saw the St Lucia Zouks to victory over Guyana Amazon Warriors at the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) yesterday.

Batting star Taylor eyeing 50-overs World Cup conquest

Batting star Taylor eyeing 50-overs World Cup conquest

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Last Saturday marked a year to go before the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup in England and West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor says she is quietly plotting the capture of the title at Lord’s in a year’s time.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: