Nadal cruises past Russell; Venus steams ahead

Nadal cruises past Russell; Venus steams ahead

Schiavone, Zvonareva battle through

The Spanish world number one fell behind against the 91st-ranked 33-year-old in the first set before his forehand clicked on Centre Court and he powered into the second round where he will face American Ryan Sweeting.

Five-times champion Venus Williams also progressed with ease before rain arrived late in the afternoon and Centre Court's translucent sliding roof rolled into place to allow Italy's Francesca Schiavone to complete a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over Australia's forgotten girl Jelena Dokic.

The roof had been used just three times since its completion in 2009 but with showers forecast for much of the first week it looks set to see a bit more action this year. British hope Andy Murray was due to conclude Centre Court play "indoors" later on Monday against Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Conditions were near perfect when American Williams, just back from a five-month injury layoff, beat Uzbekistan's powerful Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-1. Wearing her latest creation, a baggy ensemble with a large upside down V slashed in the back, Williams loped smoothly around the slick grass, hammering down big serves to leave the 97th-ranked Amanmuradova still looking for her first Wimbledon win after five attempts.

"Especially having not played a lot, I had a little pressure on me to come out and swing as usual," Williams, at 31 one of the oldest players in the women's draw, told reporters. She will have youth on her side in the second round, though, when she plays Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm who beat British wildcard Katie O'Brien 6-0, 7-5. At 40 years and eight months Date-Krumm became the second oldest player to win a singles match at Wimbledon after Martina Navratilova.

"I don't care about the age, but of course it's very, very difficult to continue to be in the best condition all the time and then every time after the match it's difficult to recover my body," said Date-Krumm, who took a 12-year break from professional tennis before returning in 2008.

Vera Zvonareva, the highest-ranked woman playing on opening day, survived a big scare when the second-seeded Russian beat American Alison Riske 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.  While Venus has enjoyed the ritual of returning as defending champion many times, Nadal was experiencing it for the first time after injury deprived him of the opportunity in 2009.

With his parents watching from the Royal Box, the Spaniard made a stylish start against journeyman Russell. "Was a big emotion to be the first player to play in this fabulous court," Nadal told reporters. "So seriously it was a very, very exciting feeling. It was fantastic to see how the court is in really perfect conditions."

The diminutive Russell has plied his trade on the lower echelons of the men's tour since 1998 and had only made the second round in 22 previous grand slam appearances. Yet for six games the Houston-based hustler was the equal of a player with 10 grand slam titles who is looking to equal Bjorn Borg's feat of completing the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double in the same year for a third time.

He missed a break point on Nadal's second service game but did break the Spaniard to lead 4-2 on a Centre Court which was soon full to its 15,000-capacity.  Any repeat of last year's opening day thriller when six-times champion Roger Federer almost fell to Colombia's Alejandro Falla never looked likely, however, as Nadal began pounding winners past the scrambling American who delighted the crowd with spectacular tumbles and cheeky drop shots.

It was the perfect two-hour workout for Nadal who looked revived after a brief break in Mallorca but tougher tests loom.  Canada's fast-rising 31st seed Milos Raonic, a potential third-round opponent for Nadal, fired down 25 aces to beat Frenchman Marc Gicquel 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 and Czech Tomas Berdych, runner-up last year, crushed Italy's Filippo Volandri. 

Ninth seed Gael Monfils beat Germany's Matthias Bachinger in straight sets and he was joined in the second round by fellow Frenchman and former semi-finalist Richard Gasquet.

FIRST-ROUND RESULTS

First round results (prefix denotes seeding): Men’s singles: Dudi Sela (Isr) bt Frederico Gil (Por) 6-4, 6-1, 6-4; 6-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Filippo Volandri (Ita) 6-2, 6-2, 6-1; Julien Benneteau (Fra) bt Ruben Bemelmans (Bel) 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1; 17-Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Santiago Giraldo (Col) 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3); Ryan Sweeting (US) bt Pablo Andujar (Esp) 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1; Igor Kunitsyn (Rus) bt Igor Sijsling (Ned) 6-3, 6-4,  6-2; Simone Bolelli (Ita) bt Martin Fischer (Atr) 7-5, 6-4, 6-4; 9-Gael Monfils (Fra) bt Matthias Bachinger (Ger) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3; 14-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) bt Potito Starace (Ita) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; 1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt Michael Russell (US) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2; Alex Bogomolov Jr (US) bt Donald Young (US) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; Gilles Muller (Lux) bt Tommy Haas (Ger) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-3; Grega Zemlja (Slv) bt Lukas Lacko (Svk) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4; Denis Istomin (Uzb) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; 10-Mardy Fish (US) bt Marcel Granollers (Esp) 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; Rainer Schuettler (Ger) bt 30-Thomaz Bellucci (Bra) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-2; Feliciano Lopez (Esp) bt Michael Berrer (Ger) 6-4, 7-5, 6-3; 31-Milos Raonic (Can) bt Marc Gicquel (Fra) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Women’s singles: 6-Francesca Schiavone (Ita) bt Jelena Dokic (Aus) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3;   
Monica Niculescu (Rmn) bt Sybille Bammer (Aut) 6-1, 6-1; 12-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) bt Zhang Shuai (Chn) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Alexandra Dulgheru (Rmn) bt Jill Craybas (US) 6-2, 6-4; Christina McHale (US) bt 28-Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) 2-6, 6-1, 8-6; Sara Errani (Ita) bt 17-Kaia Kanepi (Est) 6-1, 6-4; 2-Vera Zvonareva (Rus) bt Alison Riske (US) 6-0, 3-6, 6-3; Ksenia Pervak (Rus) bt 22-Shahar Peer (Isr) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4; Anna Tatishvili (Geo) bt Anastasia Pivovarova (Rus) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3; 19-Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) bt Varvara Lepchenko (US) 7-5, 6-3; Elena Vesnina (Rus) bt Laura Pous Tio (Esp) 6-4, 6-3; Pauline Parmentier (Fra) bt Sorana Cirstea (Rom) 6-1, 6-3; 23-Venus Williams (US) bt Akgul Amanmuradova (Uzb) 6-3, 6-1; Kimiko Date-Krumm (Jap) bt Katie O'Brien (Bri) 6-0, 7-5.

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