LONDON, (Reuters) – Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic proved shock-proof as a sense of order was restored yesterday after the tremors that rumbled around Wimbledon on opening night following Rafa Nadal’s defeat.
The top seeds limbered up on a sunny Centre Court with easy first-round wins to get their challenges underway, with Williams overpowering Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella 6-1 6-3 before Djokovic dispatched German Florian Mayer in straight sets.
A day that began with Belgium’s Steve Darcis waking up as the sport’s latest giant-slayer after his shock first round defeat of 12-times major champion Nadal on Monday, continued in far less dramatic fashion at the All England club.
The 31-year-old Williams pocketed the first set in 19 minutes against Minella and despite a slight hiccup in the second when she double-faulted to drop serve, her 32nd consecutive victory was as straightforward as they come.
Likewise, Djokovic as he outmanoeuvred Mayer, a player just outside the top 32 seeds and who he faced in the quarter-finals last year, for a 6-3 7-5 6-4 victory.
Nadal’s fourth-seeded compatriot David Ferrer, who he beat to win an eighth French Open, completed a far-from-memorable Centre Court programme with a 6-1 4-6 7-5 6-2 win against Argentina’s Martin Alund despite several tumbles.
Other men’s seeds also flourished with Czech 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, Argentine 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, Germany’s Tommy Haas and talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov all enjoying straight sets wins.
In the women’s draw, last year’s runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Samantha Stosur and Angelique Kerber all progressed but 10th seed Maria Kirilenko’s form in reaching the French Open last eight vanished as she suffered a surprise 6-3 6-4 defeat by Britain’s Laura Robson.
Robson’s win staunched a flow of defeats for home players which had threatened to leave Andy Murray as the only surviving Briton in the second round.
Big-serving American Sam Querrey, the 21st seed, also suffered a first-round exit, losing in five sets to Australian Bernard Tomic, having battled back from two sets down.
Williams said she had been “really sad” at Nadal’s exit, something she put down to the quick change from the claycourts of Paris to Wimbledon’s slick lawns, a transition she said had left her feeling a bit rusty on Ladies Day.
“I played a lot of matches on clay this year, more than I’ve played I think ever,” the five-times Wimbledon champion and winner of 16 major singles crowns, told reporters.
“I had a little tough time adjusting today. So for him (Nadal) it must have been a lot more difficult because he only played clay courts. I feel like I was a little rusty for some reason today.”