Ser­ena’s path to ti­tle could hit road­blocks

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Dwyre bill. dwyre@ latimes. com

LON­DON — The Ser­ena Wil­liams quest for a fourth straight ma­jor ten­nis ti­tle and a pos­si­ble cal­en­dar Grand Slam is now six matches away. She was sup­posed to breeze through the f irst round Mon­day at Wim­ble­don, and she did.

She beat a 20- year- old Rus­sian qual­i­fier, Mar­garita Gas­paryan, 6- 4, 6- 1, and counted bless­ings about her re­cent suc­cess, which are vic­to­ries in each ma­jor since last year’s U. S. Open.

“I couldn’t have dreamt of hav­ing a bet­ter 12 months,” she said.

She f ielded the usual ques­tions about the im­por­tance of keep­ing her string of Grand Slam tour­na­ment vic­to­ries go­ing and did her best to down­play it.

“I just al­ways fo­cus on the mo­ment. I live in the present,” she said.

That, of course, was fol­lowed by a ques­tion about the fu­ture; about the like­li­hood that one of the play­ers in her im­me­di­ate path to­ward more records is her big sis­ter, Venus, who won Mon­day, 6- 0, 6- 0, over Madi­son Bren­gle. Venus and Ser­ena are each two match vic­to­ries away from a fourthround meet­ing.

“I didn’t know that,” Ser­ena said.

Another road­block for Ser­ena could be fourth- seeded Maria Shara­pova, who also won easily, 6- 2, 6- 2, over Bri­tain’s Jo­hanna Konta. USA men start well

U. S. men had a nice start, with John Is­ner, seeded 17th, and Steve John­son, the un­seeded for­mer USC star, ad­vanc­ing. Is­ner beat Go Soeda of Ja­pan, 7- 6 ( 5), 6- 4, 6- 4, and John­son bat­tled through a f ive- set­ter against Lukas Lacko of Slo­vakia and pre­vailed, 6- 3, 6- 7 ( 5), 4- 6, 6- 1, 6- 4.

Tommy Haas, a 37- yearold still play­ing at a high level, got through his f irst round, 6- 2, 6- 3, 4- 6, 6- 2, against Dusan La­jovic of Ser­bia. Haas is from Ger­many, but splits his res­i­dency be­tween Los An­ge­les and Braden­ton, Fla.

Fourth- seeded Stan Wawrinka, the re­cent French Open cham­pion, pre­vailed against Joao Sousa of Por­tu­gal, 6- 2, 7- 5, 7- 6 ( 3). Smoke sig­nals

Top- seeded Novak Djokovic spent part of his post­match in­ter­view de­bunk­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that he is get­ting illegal sig­nals from his coaches in the stands, es­pe­cially three- time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Boris Becker.

He de­nied his team was cheat­ing and had a nice touche’ an­swer when asked whether there had been any sig­nals dur­ing Mon­day’s match or any words in Ser­bian?

“Un­for­tu­nately — or for­tu­nately,” Djokovic said, “He [ Becker] doesn’t speak Ser­bian.” Dou­bles scare

De­fend­ing dou­bles cham­pi­ons Jack Sock of the U. S. and Vasek Pospisil of Canada had a scare in their firstround match, but pre­vailed against Sam Groth of Aus­tralia and Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, 5- 7, 7- 6 ( 5), 7- 6 ( 3), 6- 1.

Sock and Pospisil are seeded third. Bob and Mike Bryan of Ca­mar­illo, who didn’t play Mon­day, are seeded No. 1.

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