Wil­liams stretched in be­low-par win

The Dominion Post - - Sport - TEN­NIS

This was not the Ser­ena Wil­liams the ten­nis world is used to see­ing on Cen­tre Court. It was still good enough for the de­fend­ing Wim­ble­don cham­pion to ad­vance to the sec­ond round in straight sets.

Strug­gling on serve and fail­ing to dom­i­nate against a 148th-ranked Swiss qual­i­fier play­ing in her first Grand Slam tour­na­ment yes­ter­day, Wil­liams laboured to a 6-2, 6-4 vic­tory over Amra Sadikovic – the 80th match win of her Wim­ble­don ca­reer.

What looked on pa­per like a com­plete mis­match turned into a tighter con­test than ex­pected.

‘‘I never un­der­es­ti­mate any­one,’’ said Wil­liams, who had only four aces and served five dou­ble­faults. ‘‘It was a re­ally good match but I don’t think it was tougher than I thought.’’

The six-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion jumped out to 3-0, run­ning off 13 points in a row, de­fy­ing her rep­u­ta­tion as a slow starter. ‘‘I started fast, that’s about it,’’ Wil­liams said when asked what pos­i­tives she took from her per­for­mance.

The 27-year-old Sadikovic, who de­cided to re­tire in 2014 to work at a ten­nis club in Basel but even­tu­ally was talked into re­turn­ing to the tour, made things tricky for Wil­liams.

She took a 2-1 lead in the sec­ond set and stayed even un­til the fi­nal game, when she was bro­ken while serv­ing at 4-5.

Since win­ning last year’s ti­tle, Wil­liams has come up short in the ma­jors, los­ing in the semifinals at the US Open and fi­nals of the Aus­tralian and French Opens. She needs one more Grand Slam cham­pi­onship to equal St­effi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 ti­tles.

On the men’s side, sec­ond­seeded Andy Mur­ray fol­lowed Wil­liams on Cen­tre Court and cruised to a trou­ble-free 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over Liam Broady, a Bri­tish wild­card en­try ranked No 235.

In the first all-Bri­tish men’s meet­ing at Wim­ble­don since 2001 and first at a Grand Slam since 2006, Mur­ray was in com­mand from start to fin­ish.

Mur­ray fin­ished the match just be­fore the first rain de­lay of the tour­na­ment.

Tarps were pulled over all of the out­side courts, and the re­tractable roof on Cen­tre Court was closed for the en­su­ing women’s match be­tween Svet­lana Kuznetsova and Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, won by Kuznetsova in straight sets.

Also reach­ing the sec­ond round with straight-set wins were seeded French­men Richard Gas­quet and Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga.

No 7 Gas­quet swept past Bri­tain’s Al­jaz Be­dene 6-3 6-4 6-3 while No 12 Tsonga got past Spain’s Inigo Cer­vantes 6-4 7-6 (5) 6-4.

Gas­quet reached the Wim­ble­don semifinals last year, while Tsonga made it to the semis in 2011 and 2012.

Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who had lost in the first round at the All Eng­land Club five times, beat 18-year-old Amer­i­can Tay­lor Fritz – the youngest player in the men’s draw – 7-6 (4) 6-1 6-7 (2) 6-4.

No 15 Nick Kyrgios kept his cool – and hit an­other be­tween-thelegs win­ner – as he beat 37-year-old Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-3 6-7 (9) 6-1.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Ser­ena Wil­liams was far from her best in beat­ing Swiss qual­i­fier Amra Sadikovic in the open­ing round at Wim­ble­don yes­ter­day.

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