Venus in tears over crash as Mur­ray, Nadal stroll

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON: Venus Wil­liams wept at Wimbledon over the “dev­as­ta­tion” of a fa­tal road ac­ci­dent for which she is fac­ing le­gal ac­tion as Andy Mur­ray and Rafael Nadal eased into the sec­ond round yes­ter­day.

Wil­liams, the 37-year-old five-time cham­pion, is cel­e­brat­ing the 20th an­niver­sary of her maiden ap­pear­ance at the All Eng­land Club.

But that land­mark has been over­shad­owed by her in­volve­ment last month in a road ac­ci­dent near her Florida home which re­sulted in the death of a 78-year-old man.

“There are re­ally no words to de­scribe, like, how dev­as­tat­ing and-yeah. I’m com­pletely speech­less. It’s just...” Wil­liams said be­fore she left a news con­fer­ence to com­pose her­self.

The fam­ily of Jerome Bar­son, who frac­tured spine and nu­mer­ous in­ter­nal in­juries in the smash, said they in­tend to sue the Amer­i­can star. When she was asked how she was coping men­tally, Wil­liams added: “I have no idea what to­mor­row will bring. That’s all I can say about it. That’s what I’ve learned.”

De­spite the tragedy at home, Wil­liams re­mained fo­cused enough on Court One to clinch a 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 vic­tory over Bel­gium’s Elise Mertens in the first round. De­fend­ing men’s cham­pion Mur­ray cel­e­brated the news that he’s about to be­come a fa­ther again by reach­ing the sec­ond round.

The top seed and world num­ber one downed Kazakh lucky loser Alexan­der Bub­lik 61, 6-4, 6-2, shrug­ging off two brief rain de­lays and show­ing lit­tle sign of the hip prob­lem which plagued him in the build-up. “I have felt OK the last few days and the adrenaline you feel by play­ing a match numbs any pain you may have,” said the Bri­tish star af­ter see­ing off world num­ber 134 Bub­lik.

Mur­ray, whose baby daugh­ter Sophia was born last year, next faces Dustin Brown, the man who knocked out Rafael Nadal two years ago.

EMO­TIONAL KVI­TOVA

Ger­man world num­ber 97 Brown came back from a set and a break down to beat Por­tu­gal’s Joao Sousa 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4.

World num­ber two and two-time cham­pion Nadal se­cured his 850th ca­reer vic­tory with a 61, 6-3, 6-2 de­mo­li­tion of Aus­tralia’s John Mill­man. Fresh from win­ning his 10th French Open ti­tle, Nadal is just the sev­enth player to reach the 850-win mark, join­ing Roger Fed­erer, Jimmy Con­nors, Ivan Lendl, John McEn­roe, An­dre Agassi and Guillermo Vi­las.

Nadal, seeded to face Mur­ray in the semi­fi­nals, will play Don­ald Young for a place in the last 32. “I haven’t had many matches on grass for the last few years, but I had some pos­i­tive feel­ings,” said Nadal who missed last year’s tour­na­ment with a wrist in­jury. There was lots of emo­tion for 2011 and 2014 women’s cham­pion Pe­tra Kvi­tova as the pop­u­lar Czech downed Swe­den’s Johanna Lars­son 6-3, 6-4. Kvi­tova was play­ing just her eighth match since suf­fer­ing a po­ten­tially ca­reer-end­ing hand in­jury fight­ing off a knife-wield­ing bur­glar at her home in De­cem­ber.

“I felt the en­ergy from the crowd and it was amaz­ing to be back here at Wimbledon and play­ing on the beau­ti­ful Cen­tre Court,” said the 27-year-old Kvi­tova. Nick Kyr­gios, who beat Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, won’t get an­other op­por­tu­nity to re­peat that shock. The com­bustible 20th seeded Aus­tralian was 6-3, 6-4 down to France’s Pierre-Hugues Her­bert when he called it quits on Court Three af­ter fail­ing to shake off the hip in­jury which has plagued him in re­cent weeks.

Kei Nishikori, the Ja­panese ninth seed, beat Italy’s Marco Cecchi­nato 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in just 72 min­utes. Women’s sec­ond seed Si­mona Halep, blasted off court in the French Open fi­nal by Je­lena Ostapenko, downed New Zealand qual­i­fier Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-1.

Halep, a Wimbledon semi-fi­nal­ist in 2014, next faces Brazil’s Beatriz Had­dad Maria. For­mer world num­ber one Vic­to­ria Azarenka starts against Cather­ine Bel­lis of the United States and will be play­ing her first Grand Slam since tak­ing time off af­ter last year’s French Open to have her first child Leo in De­cem­ber.

The two-time Aus­tralian Open cham­pion made the semi-fi­nals at the All Eng­land Club in 2011 and 2012. Men’s fifth seed Stan Wawrinka, look­ing to com­plete the ca­reer Slam, faces Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

French Open winner Ostapenko, the 2014 Wimbledon ju­nior cham­pion, takes on Ali­ak­san­dra Sas­novich of Be­larus. —AFP

WIMBLEDON: Spain’s Rafael Nadal serves against Aus­tralia’s John Mill­man dur­ing their men’s sin­gles first round match on the first day of the 2017 Wimbledon Cham­pi­onships at The All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Club in Wimbledon, south­west Lon­don yes­ter­day.— AP

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