LONDON – Reigning champion Novak Djokovic and Britain’s Andy Murray both passed their opening tests at Wimbledon, while men’s singles third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was ousted by American Frances Tiafoe in straight sets.
After two years of waiting, as the prestigious Grand Slam was canceled last year due to the pandemic, the roofed center court welcomed the opening match between world No.1 Djokovic and wild card Jack Draper on the first competition day of the main draw.
The 19-year-old Draper was bold enough to break in the third game and took the first set 6-4. But the 34-year-old Serbian with 19 Grand Slam titles was too strong for the local rookie.
Djokovic came back on track to win the following three sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, setting up a second-round match against Kevin Anderson from South Africa.
“I think I probably had one of the best serving performances that I can recall on any surface,” said Djokovic who hit 25 aces during the match. “I could not be more pleased with the rhythm of my serve. On grass, the quickest surface in our sport, it helps a lot getting a lot of free points on that first serve.”
Murray, 34, made a sensational comeback by beating 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Having struggled with injuries in the past few years, the former world No. 1 and three-time grand slam winner needed a wild card to play his first singles match at Wimbledon since 2017.
After Murray took the first two sets and led in 5-0 in the third set, his Georgian rival then took the following seven games. But Murray didn’t allow victory to slip away as he nailed it in the fourth set after three hours and 32 minutes.
“It’s amazing to be back playing out here on center court again. It’s something I’ve really missed,” said Murray. “I was obviously so disappointed to have lost the third set and had to remember what I was doing that got me in a winning position.”
Tsitsipas became the highest ranked men’s singles player that suffered a first-round exit on Monday as the Greek lost to Tiafoe 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
The 22-year-old world No. 4 reached the final at this year’s French Open, but didn’t play any matches on grass courts before Wimbledon.
In the women’s singles, two-time champion Petra Kvitova was stunned by 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-4.
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus cruised into the second round after defeating Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-1, 6-4. (Xinhua)