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Tennis-Vondrousova out with a whimper, agony for Murray, delight for Djokovic

July 3, 2024 11:19 AM IST

Tennis | Djokovic | Murray | Marketa Vondrousova

Marketa Vondrousova became the first defending Wimbledon women’s champion to make a first-round exit for 30 years as she was bundled out by Spaniard Jessica Bouzas Maneiro on Tuesday.

The Czech sixth seed slumped to a 6-4 6-2 defeat as her reign ended with a whimper and there was also crushing disappointment for two-time champion Andy Murray.

The British favourite was denied a last hurrah on his beloved Centre Court as his injury curse struck again, the 37-year-old withdrawing from the singles just as the gates opened for day two of the Championships

Murray admitted defeat in his race against time after surgery to remove a spinal cyst – pulling out of his match against Czech Tomas Machac, although he may still get to write the final chapter of his fabled Wimbledon chronicle with his brother Jamie in the doubles later this week.

While Murray will likely call time on his illustrious career after the Olympics, his old adversary Novak Djokovic showed no sign of his knee problems as he began his quest for a record 25th Grand Slam title impressively.

Serbia’s Djokovic had surgery after pulling out of the French Open and was a doubt for Wimbledon but the seven-time champion looked razor sharp as he crushed Czech qualifier Vit Kopriva 6-1 6-2 6-2.

“Practice week went great but an official match on Centre Court is completely different,” Djokovic, who risked breaking Wimbledon’s all-white clothing policy with a grey knee support, told reporters.

“I didn’t know how I would feel or how the knee would hold up, but for an opening match I couldn’t ask for a better start.”

SWIATEK ‘RUSTY’

Light rain disrupted play on a couple of occasions but it did not interfere with women’s top seed Iga Swiatek, who came through a dangerous first-round against American Sofia Kenin under the Court One roof.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek was pushed hard by the former Australian Open winner but prevailed 6-3 6-4.

“Felt a little bit rusty, but I’m happy that I’m through to the second round,” Swiatek, who has won four French Opens but is yet to really make her mark at Wimbledon, said.

“When you switch to any surface, first couple of matches are not going to be comfortable and you have to accept that.”

Vondrousova became the first unseeded woman to win the women’s title last year but earned the far less welcome accolade after a miserable display against Bouzas Maneiro who picked the perfect time to earn her first Grand Slam victory.

The Czech had been troubled by a hip injury but refused to blame that for her defeat.

“Today I was really nervous since the start. I couldn’t shake it off,” she told reporters.

Russian Andrey Rublev became the highest men’s seed to depart as the world number six was stunned by Francisco Comesana of Argentina on his Grand Slam debut.

Rublev thumped his racket into his own leg in frustration as he went down 6-4 5-7 6-2 7-6(5).

French Open runner-up Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed, made light work of Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, while Polish seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz eased past qualifier Radu Albot.

Elena Rybakina, women’s champion in 2022, made a bright start as she thrashed qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse while there were also wins for American fifth seed Jessica Pegula who dropped two games in dispatching Ashlyn Krueger and Britain’s number one Katie Boulter, over experienced Tatjana Maria.

(Reuters)

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