London | Jabeur off to a quick start as Burrage falls at first hurdle

The opening day of The Championships was peppered with showers that interrupted play on the outside courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, but under the roof on No 1 Court, Ons Jabeur, the No 3 seed from Tunisia, made swift work of Swedish qualifier, Mirjam Bjorklund, winning 6-1 6-3, and getting herself off to a quick start.

 

I’m pretty happy. It’s amazing to come back to Court 1. I enjoy playing here a lot. It’s a great start for me. Ons Jabeur

Bjorklund is ranked 125, two places off her career-high, after her best season that has seen the 23-year-old reach her first WTA quarter-final in Bogota and make her Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros.

Jabeur, however, is a quarter-finalist here in 2021, fresh from the grass-court title in Berlin, and she raced to victory in just 54 minutes.

“Today I achieved my highest ever ranking, and dropping just four games is a great start to the tournament,” said the Tunisian. “It’s amazing to be back on Court One.

“The grass suits my drop-shots and slice. Now I hope to go further than the quarter-finals.”

Jabeur celebrated her ascent to the World No 2 spot on Monday with a commanding opening round win while becoming the highest ranked African player, man or woman, surpassing South African Amanda Coetzer, who peaked at 3 in the late ‘90s.

The 27-year-old has pulled off a string of unprecedented achievements for her country with a team that is mostly comprised of Tunisians.

She prides herself on being ‘a 100 per cent Tunisian product’ and has defied all odds to carve a path for herself to the upper echelons of the sport, showcasing a unique game style with a wide smile on her face.


Mirjam Bjorklund put up a better fight in the second set against Ons Jabeur but lost in just 54 minutes in the first round at Wimbledon

© Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

Jabeur was at her ruthless best, though, taking down Bjorklund on Monday, soothing the disappointment of an early exit in Paris after having won the title in Madrid.

“I’m pretty happy. It’s amazing to come back to Court 1,” said Jabeur, who defeated Venus Williams on the very same court 12 months ago on her way to the Last 8. “I enjoy playing here a lot. It’s a great start for me.”

A focused Jabeur opened with a break of serve for a 2-0 advantage before a bold net approach saw Bjorklund save a break point in the 3rd game and a clinical volley helped the Swede get on the scoreboard.

Two games later, though, Jabeur was soon up 5-1, using her array of skills to get herself to set point when she feathered a drop-shot winner to close out the opener in just 24 minutes, winning 80 per cent of her first-serve points along the way.

The second set was more of the same as Jabeur continued to dominate on serve, saving the only 2 break points she faced en route to a comfortable win.

The Tunisian barely put a foot wrong throughout, striking 11 winners and being particularly dominant on serve, conceding only 5 points behind her first delivery, and a measly 2 behind her second.

Three of those 7 points came in a single game, when she led 4-2 in the second set, but Jabeur responded to the only 2 break points she faced all day by rattling off 4 straight points.

Bjorklund contributed a nervy 20 errors to only 3 winners, but settled into a groove on serve to make the second set more competitive.

Jabeur now awaits the winner of the clash between Polish qualifier Katarzyna Kawa and Canadian Rebecca Marino.


Lesia Tsurenko took out Jodie Burrage in straight sets out on Court 18 on Monday

© Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Britain’s Jodie Burrage could not find the form that took her to the 3rd-round at Eastbourne last week against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, and lost 6-2 6-3 out on Court 18 after an hour and 9 minutes of play.

She scored massive brownie points, though, for going to the aid of a ball boy, who was unwell, giving him Percy Pigs sweets and a sports drink and staying by his side until paramedics appeared.

The youngster looked unsteady on his feet early in the second set, and the 23-year-old Briton quickly went to help, offering an energy gel from her bag and a bottle of water.

The ball boy was later treated by the paramedics and left the court in a wheelchair, allowing play to resume

Her on-court loss, which was also interrupted for 40 minutes by rain, saw Burrage, whose ranking has climbed into the top 150, become the first Briton to lose at this year’s tournament.

Another Ukrainian, Anhelina Kalinina, also advanced to round 2 after a rain-interrupted battle with Ana Bondar from Hungary, coming through 4-6 6-2 6-4 after an hour 51 minutes of play.


Alison Riske was the first to win at this year's Championships, beating Ylena In-Albon in straight sets in just 66 minutes

© Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Alison Riske, the 28th seed, had posted the first victory at this year’s Championships, defeating Ylena In-Albon from Switzerland, 6-2 6-4, in 66 minutes.

The American, a quarter-finalist here in 2019 and the finalist in Nottingham 3 weeks ago, produced 26 winners to only 15 unforced errors, and won 20 of 32 points at the net.

Riske will next face 20-year old qualifier Maja Chwalinska, who also delivered a grass-court masterclass in her first ever Grand Slam main draw match to dispatch Czech Katerina Siniakova, 6-0 7-5, to notch her first career Top 100 win.

This time last year, the Pole announced that she was taking an indefinite break from the sport due to depression, but her beguiling web of spins and slices were in fine fettle against the current doubles World No 3.

Chwalinska was unable to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set, but triumphed in a 4-deuce final game, converting her 3rd match point as a forehand slice elicited a Siniakova error.

The Pole struck 17 winners to her opponent’s 14, and 25 miscues to Siniakova’s 48, but Chawalinska won 66% of her first delivery points and 69% on her second, which proved the critical difference compared to the Czech’s 57% and 33% over the 1 hour 25 minute encounter.


Rain interruption play twice early in Day 1 of The Championships at Wimbledon 2022

© Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

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