Fededer and Djokovic ease in, Kerber less so
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