Novak clears first hurdle but Venus out
Men's champion Novak Djokovic barely broke stride to clear a potentially tricky first hurdle at Wimbledon as he opened Centre Court action yesterday, but five-times women's winner Venus Williams suffered an ignominious exit.
The 126th edition of the grasscourt grand slam began in virtually perfect weather conditions and with a faultless display by world number one Djokovic, who crushed Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-3 6-1.
Twelve months after beating another Spaniard, Rafa Nadal, to win his first Wimbledon title, Djokovic looked like he had never been away with a clinical display on the pristine lawn.
At about the same time as the Serb was polishing off Ferrero, 32-year-old Williams was experiencing a first-round defeat at a tournament she has so often graced since her debut in 1997.
A 6-1 6-3 defeat by Russian Elena Vesnina was a rather sad sight for fans on Court Two. Venus went 5-0 down in quick time and trudged around the court with a resigned air against the doubles specialist.
"I feel like I'm a great player but I have to deal with circumstances that other people don't have to deal with in the sport," said Williams, who finished 2011 outside the world's top 100 after battling with injury and Sjogren's syndrome, a little-known disorder that causes fatigue and joint pain.
"There's no way I'm just going to sit down and give up just because I have a hard time the first five or six tournaments back," added the former world number one, who only returned to action in March after a seven-month lay-off.
There were no alarms for women's favourite and top seed Maria Sharapova, the French Open champion, as she breezed past Australia's Anastasia Rodionova 6-2 6-3.
Djokovic's fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic also made it through to the second round, beating David Nalbandian 6-4 7-6 6-2.
At least Argentine Nalbandian, who reached the Wimbledon final on his debut in 2002, completed the match after being defaulted in the final at Queen's Club for gashing the shin of a line judge after booting an advertising podium.
Samantha Stosur, one of 11 grand slam champions in the women's singles draw, eased into the second round.
The US Open champion beat Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-1 6-3, while China's Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion, also dropped just four games against Ksenia Pervak.
Six-times men's champion Roger Federer thrashed Spain's Albert Ramos 6-1 6-1 6-2, surpassing Lleyton Hewitt's record of winning the most grass-court matches.
But 24th seed Marcel Granollers of Spain was beaten 5-7 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-2 6-8 by another Serbian, Victor Troicki. - Reuters