Fed­eder and Djokovic ease in, Ker­ber less so

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: There were plenty of records for Roger Fed­erer to savour yes­ter­day as he be­gan his pur­suit of a record eighth Wim­ble­don ti­tle, but he was de­nied a chance to cel­e­brate them in style as his first round match ended abruptly midway through the sec­ond set.

Trail­ing 3-6, 0-3, 30-30, Alexandr Dol­go­polov drew a cho­rus of de­jected sighs on Cen­tre Court as he walked up to the net to shake hands with Fed­erer.

It was the sec­ond suc­ces­sive an­ti­cli­mac­tic end­ing on ten­nis’s most fa­mous stage af­ter No­vak Djokovic’s op­po­nent, Martin Kl­izan also called it quits midway through their sec­ond set.

Fed­erer’s en­counter against Ukrainian Dol­go­polov lasted a mere 43 min­utes.

Fans who had poured in to see the Swiss mas­ter in ac­tion wit­nessed him fire down a 10 000th ca­reer ace and chalk up a record 85th win at Wim­ble­don, sur­pass­ing the bench­mark he had shared with Jimmy Connors.

By sim­ply play­ing the first point, Fed­erer also drew level with Fabrice San­toro’s pro­fes­sional era record of play­ing in a 70th Grand Slam tour­na­ment.

Djokovic, mean­while, a three times Wim­ble­don cham­pion, had taken the first set 6-3 be­fore Kl­izan called the trainer onto Cen­tre Court to treat a leg in­jury.

While the 47th-ranked Slo­vakian emerged for the sec­ond set, he lasted just two more games be­fore call­ing it quits.

There had been lit­tle to sep­a­rate the play­ers in the first set, yet Kl­izan was in clear dis­com­fort af­ter that and was im­me­di­ately bro­ken by Djokovic, who then held be­fore the Slo­vakian limped to­wards the um­pire to end the en­counter.

There can be few things in ten­nis more em­bar­rass­ing than be­ing beaten in the first round of a Grand Slam tour­na­ment while ranked No 1 in the world.

It is a painful mem­ory that is still fresh in An­gelique Ker­ber’s mind, hav­ing suf­fered that mis­for­tune at the French Open just five weeks ago.

Such has been the woe­ful form of Ker­ber, many pun­dits feared she might be head­ing for a Paris-Lon­don firstround exit dou­ble yes­ter­day.

Luck­ily for her she proved the naysay­ers wrong with her 6-4, 6-4, win over Amer­i­can qual­i­fier Irina Fal­coni.

How­ever, the man­ner of her win against an op­po­nent who had never won a match at Wim­ble­don in four pre­vi­ous vis­its and is ranked 247th, would have done lit­tle to quell the be­lief that Ker­ber is un­likely to re­peat her spec­tac­u­lar 2016 run when she fin­ished run­ner-up to Wil­liams.

“Play­ing first rounds in Grand Slams are al­ways tough, es­pe­cially with (the mem­ory of) my first-round match that I lost in Paris,” Ker­ber said.

“I was ac­tu­ally just think­ing about point-by-point, try­ing to find­ing my rhythm dur­ing the whole match,” added the Ger­man who pro­duced 13 un­forced er­rors and only eight win­ners in a be­low-par open­ing set against Fal­coni.

A sea­son af­ter be­ing the toast of the ten­nis world by win­ning two grand slam ti­tles and fin­ish­ing run­ner up to Wil­liams at the All Eng­land Club, the 29-year-old ad­mit­ted that life at the top had not been an easy ride.

“There is much more ex­pec­ta­tion, much more pres­sure, from me, from out­side, from ev­ery­thing,” said Ker­ber, whose num­ber one rank­ing is on the line dur­ing the Wim­ble­don fort­night.

“It’s eas­ier to go there than to stay there.” – Reuters

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