For a set and a half, Rafael Nadal looked in danger of tumbling out in the first round of Wimbledon for the second year in a row. The left-hander dominating play on Centre Court was not the 14-time Grand Slam champion, it was 51st-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia.
But the top-ranked Nadal dug deep, scrambled for gets all over the court, slipped and fell and got up and still hit winners, pulling out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory — the 700th tour-level match win of his career.
“That means that I had a very long and successful career, so I’m happy for that,” Nadal said. “But the most important thing for me today more than 700 victories is a victory here in the first round.”
Next up for the two-time Wimbledon champion: Lukas Rosol, the hard-hitting Czech player who eliminated him in the same round two years ago.
While Nadal had to battle Tuesday, seven-time champion Roger Federer strolled to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Paolo Lorenzi, an Italian with a career 0-13 record in Grand Slam matches.
Among other straight-set winners at the All England Club were Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, French Open winner Maria Sharapova and 2012 champion Serena Williams.
Tuesday’s victory was Nadal’s first win on grass in two years. He was upset by Steve Darcis in the first round here last year and lost to 85th-ranked Dustin Brown in a Wimbledon tuneup in Halle, Germany, two weeks ago.
Federer lost here in the second round last year to No. 116 Sergei Stakhovsky, but was never in danger against the 83rd-ranked Lorenzi. The fourth-seeded Federer served nine aces, saved all five break points against him and broke six times.
Federer and Lorenzi are both 32, but that’s where the similarities end. For the Italian, the loss extended his career Grand Slam record to 0-13. Only one player, Juan-Antonio Marin of Costa Rica, has a worse record, with no wins and 17 losses.
In another mismatch on Court 1, Sharapova sailed to a 6-1, 6-0 win over British wild-card entry Samantha Murray, who ranks 242 places below the Russian at No. 247.
Five-time champion Serena Williams made light work of Anna Tatishvili, beating the fellow American 6-1, 6-2 to reach the second round.
Somdev Devvarman had to swallow yet another first-round defeat as he bowed outafter losing his opening match to 15th seeded Polish Jerzy Janowicz. Somdev’s 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-3 3-6 defeat was his 10th first round defeat in his last 13 tournaments. (PTI)
Men’s Singles Round 1:5-S Wawrinka beat J Sousa 6-3 6-4 6-3; 8-M Raonic beat M Ebden 6-2 6-4 6-4; 9-J Isner beat D Smethurst 7-5 6-3 6-4; 10-K Nishikori beat K De Schepper 6-4 7-6(5) 7-5.
Women’s singles Round 1: 1-S Williams beat A Tatishvili 6-1 6-2; 4-A Radwanska beat A Mitu 6-2 6-1; 5-M Sharapova beat S Murray 6-1 6-0; 9-A continued…