Fed­erer, Djokovic get free passes at Wim­ble­don

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Roger Fed­erer and No­vak Djokovic barely had to break sweat to make win­ning starts at Wim­ble­don as their in­jury-hit op­po­nents re­tired hurt from their first round matches yes­ter­day. Fed­erer is chasing a record eighth Wim­ble­don ti­tle and he was al­ready well on top at the start of his 19th All Eng­land Club cam­paign when Alexandr Dol­go­polov was forced to quit with an an­kle in­jury.

The world num­ber three raced into a 6-3, 3-0 in 43 min­utes on Cen­tre Court be­fore the Ukrainian limped off. Fed­erer, who hit his 10,000th ca­reer ace in the eighth game of the first set, will face ei­ther Du­san La­jovic of Ser­bia or Greek qual­i­fier Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas for a place in the last 32.

“It feels great to be back on Cen­tre Court,” said Fed­erer, who recorded his 85th match win at Wim­ble­don, pass­ing the mark he shared with Jimmy Connors. Hav­ing un­ex­pect­edly won the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary be­fore tak­ing the clay-court sea­son off to rest, Fed­erer, mak­ing a record-equalling 70th Grand Slam ap­pear­ance, is the favourite to take the Wim­ble­don crown for the first time since 2012.

“Ev­ery­body’s got a chance to win Wim­ble­don and for me it’s no dif­fer­ent. I al­ready achieved my dream to be back here healthy. Now we’ll see how far I can go,” Fed­erer said. Djokovic, a three-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion, was lead­ing 6-3, 2-0 when Slo­vakian world num­ber 47 Martin Kl­izan re­tired af­ter just 40 min­utes on Cen­tre Court due to a calf prob­lem.

The 30-year-old Serb will face Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Repub­lic for a place in the last 32. It was the kind of trou­ble-free first round Djokovic would have been hop­ing for af­ter the most tur­bu­lent pe­riod of his ca­reer, the 12-time ma­jor win­ner los­ing in the Aus­tralian Open sec­ond round and the French Open quar­ter-fi­nals.

“He had is­sues walk­ing on to court. I tried to fo­cus on my game plan, I was serv­ing well and when it mat­tered I made a break,” said Djokovic, who is aim­ing to win a first Grand Slam ti­tle since last year’s French Open. “It was great to be back on Cen­tre Court. It’s the cra­dle of ten­nis his­tory, but you never like to end a match this way.”

With de­fend­ing cham­pion Ser­ena Wil­liams side­lined while she pre­pares to give birth to her first child, the race to win the women’s ti­tle is the most wide open in a gen­er­a­tion. World num­ber one An­gelique Ker­ber, the 2016 Aus­tralian and US Open win­ner, is among the favourites af­ter reach­ing last year’s fi­nal, which she lost to Ser­ena.

The Ger­man has failed to main­tain that form this sea­son and her poor run cul­mi­nated in an em­bar­rass­ing French Open first round loss to Eka­te­rina Makarova last month.

PO­TEN­TIAL STAR

But the top seed showed glimpses of her best form as she saw off Amer­i­can qual­i­fier Irina Fal­coni 6-4, 6-4 in 87 min­utes on Cen­tre Court. “I’m happy to be back, but this year is com­pletely dif­fer­ent for me. I’m just happy I’m through the first round,” Ker­ber said. Mi­los Raonic ad­vanced to the sec­ond round with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) win against Jan-Len­nard Struff. Big-serv­ing Raonic be­came the first Cana­dian man to make a Grand Slam fi­nal with his im­pres­sive Wim­ble­don run 12 months ago be­fore los­ing the ti­tle match to Andy Mur­ray.

Ar­gentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, a semi-fi­nal­ist in 2013, de­feated Aus­tralian Thanasi Kokki­nakis 6-3, 3-6, 76 (7/2), 6-4 as the 29th seed moved to­wards a po­ten­tial third round clas­sic against Djokovic.

Aus­tralia’s Bernard Tomic said he had lost his “re­spect” for ten­nis fol­low­ing his lack­lus­tre 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Mis­cha Zverev. “I don’t know why but I felt a lit­tle bit bored out there, to be com­pletely hon­est,”Tomic said.

French 22nd seed Richard Gas­quet slumped to a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 loss against Spain’s David Fer­rer. In the women’s draw, Karolina Pliskova un­der­lined why she is the book­mak­ers’ favourite to win Wim­ble­don as the world num­ber three crushed Ev­geniya Ro­d­ina 6-1, 6-4.

The 25-year-old Czech emerged as a po­ten­tial star when she reached the US Open fi­nal last year and she has fol­lowed up on that break­through by mak­ing the French Open semi-fi­nals last month.

For­mer French Open cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza, the 14th seed, de­feated Rus­sia’s Eka­te­rina Alexan­drova 6-2, 6-4. Aus­tralian qual­i­fier Arina Ro­di­onova, ranked 166th, saved seven match points be­fore de­feat­ing Rus­sian 16th seed Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkova 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 9-7. — AFP

WIM­BLE­DON: Ser­bia’s No­vak Djokovic re­turns against Slo­vakia’s Martin Kl­izan dur­ing their men’s sin­gles first round match on the sec­ond day of the 2017 Wim­ble­don Cham­pi­onships at The All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Club in Wim­ble­don, south­west Lon­don, yes­ter­day. — AFP

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