It was business as usual on the first day of the Championships: some five set marathons, tense edgy thrillers and the obligatory bagel or two as the majority of scheduled matches were completed.
Early on, it was Great Britains very own junior 2008 Champion Laura Robson stealing the limelight on the new court no.2. Still just 15, ‘Robbo’ (as she was affectionately referred to by BBC’s Caroline Cheese) played a sensational first set against former world number 5 Daniela Hantuchova. Despite the most daunting of occasions it was the experienced Slovak and not the teenager who whowed signs of nerves. When Robson did inevitably realise her achievements (a set and a break up) she lost her concentration, her serve and eventually the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
As she should have been Hantuchova was full of praise after being severaly tested by someone almost half her age, little consolation for the Brit who felt she had thrown away the match.
Elsewhere it was Roger Federer opening up on centre in Nadal’s absence. The Swiss, looking dapper as always (in a rather fetching military style jacket which has divided opinion – but gets my thumbs up!) showed enough brilliance to get past an impressive Yen Hsun – Lee.
Serena came through easily in her match on Centre – but doubts must remain if she will ever take the title again here – her loss to Sharapova in 2004 proving something of a psychological hindrance. The younger sibling doesnt share Venus’ Wimbly vibes.
Sharapova herself – still rusty after ten months away -rallied to beat blonde, grunter clone number 16543.2A. Viktorya Kutuzova’s only distinguishable factor is that she is Ukranian not Russian. It is good to have the greatest competitor of them all in Maria back on the tour – she at least has some mystery behind her one dimensional game.
Some other big names werent so successful – James Blake was beaten in straight sets by the in form Andreas Seppi becoming the first seeded casualty. He was later joined by the inconsistent duo Feliciano Lopez and Rainer Schuettler. Nathalie Dechy also packed her bags early on.
Novak Djokovic survived a stern challenge from French journeyman Julian Benneteau, who made the most of the Serb’s erratic play in a match which lasted over 3 1/2 hours. The young Serb’s conviction, confidence and fitness have all been talking points for the last year or so – and there was precious little last night to suggest that is going to change anytime soon.
In the dying light on centre, with the British crowd’s underdog support ever present – Benneteau was matching Djokovic as the fourth set went with serve all the way to 4-5. Another long-fine quality rally ended as the Frenchman – running back towards the wall after retrieving an overhead – slipped and crashed knee first into the courtside wall.
Despite a brave match point save Djokovic sensed his opportunity and broke to win.
The 4th seed is through, but cannot be regarded a serious contender unti he himself begins to believe.
A special mention for Georgie Stoop who fought back with the last few shots of the day to level a set all with the cat’s cradle of emotions Vera Zvonareva.
James Blake (17)
Feliciano Lopez (21)
Patty Schnyder (21)
Alexandra Wozniak (23)
Thanks to Wimbldeon official site and WTAWorld for the pics
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