Former champion Garbiñe Muguruza got her campaign off to a flying start when play on the outside courts got under way late on Monday afternoon as the sun eventually made an appearance at Wimbledon.
It's my first match on grass [this season] since I didn't play any previous grass tournaments. Of course I was a little bit more nervous since it was my first match on grass and it happens to be at Wimbledon, so obviously a little bit of nerves, but I was able to manage it. I'm happy with it. Sofia Kenin
On Court 2, the Spaniard romped to a 6-0 6-1 win over Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, ranked 51, in just 49 minutes.
Muguruza, who won here in 2017, won the first 11 games before a netted forehand allowed Ferro to get on the scoreboard, but it was only a brief hiccup as the No 11 seed set up a second-round meeting with 174th-ranked Dutch qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, who put out Russian former French and US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova from Russia.
“There was a lot of crowd in the court waiting for us. I was, like, ‘Oh, wow!’” Muguruza told reporters. “I have played a lot at the beginning of the year, and you know, all of those matches and finals on an empty court.
“Then when I stepped out today and everybody was clapping, I felt like, ‘Oh my God, this is what I missed, this feeling, this energy’. I play for the people to come and watch.
“That gives me the motivation, the strength. The bigger the stage, I feel like the more motivated I am.”
Wimbledon is operating with a 50% capacity as part of a government-approved pilot event for the safe return of crowds to events following the coronavirus pandemic and the return of fans is a tonic for the players.
Muguruza, a former World No 1, was in commanding form, converting 6 of her 9 break points and hitting 10 winners to Ferro’s 7, who was undone by her unforced error count of 22.
“I was preparing for a battle, especially in grass court, which is sometimes difficult to play,” Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. “Happy I felt good on the court.
“Since the first ball I was trying to dominate the point, and I felt I was doing it. Then, she might not have — I think she didn’t have her best day, but I felt in control in the match.”
Ferro, who was playing only her second main-draw match at Wimbledon after losing in the first round as a qualifier in 2019, is a two-time WTA singles champion on clay but still has yet to notch a main-draw match-win on grass at tour level.
Muguruza is one of 5 former Wimbledon champions in the draw and while her 2017 victory, following her French Open triumph the year before, piled pressure on her broad shoulders, she now says she is calmer on court.
“I don’t feel really the pressure,” Muguruza said. “I don’t feel I have to prove [anything]. I have played well here. I’m excited to be back.
“I stopped feeling this kind of pressure of having to prove, having to show someone or the world that I have to perform well or anything. You know, I have been through that, and now I feel more calm, just doing my thing.”
Out on Court 3 Sofia Kenin, the 4th seed, also knows all about the pressures of becoming a Grand Slam champion but swept aside China’s Wang Xinyu, 6-4 6-2.
“I felt like overall I served well,” Kenin said in her post-match press conference. “I felt like it kind of saved me during today’s match.
“Of course, returns. So there is some little stuff I have to improve, but overall I’m quite happy with the way I played.
“It’s my first match on grass [this season] since I didn’t play any previous grass tournaments.
“Of course I was a little bit more nervous since it was my first match on grass and it happens to be at Wimbledon, so obviously a little bit of nerves, but I was able to manage it. I’m happy with it.”
Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion and 2020 Roland Garros finalist, moved into the second round of Wimbledon for the 3rd time in her 3 appearances at the event.
She needed just over an hour to dismiss the World No144, who was making her first appearance in the main draw of The Championships.
Wang won her 3 qualifying matches without dropping a set, but it was a different story in her first match against a Top 10 opponent.
Kenin won more than half of the points when Wang missed her first serve, which happened 60 percent of the time and the American was also solid on serve, facing just a single break point, which she swatted away.
She needed only one break of service in the opening set, which she claimed with a drop-shot winner to take the 3-2 lead, and stared down a break point at 4-3 following a stirring backhand return winner by Wang, but Kenin fended it off with a solid serve, then held on for 5-3 after a handful of deuces, and closed out the set 2 games later.
The second was more comfortable, as Kenin found forehand winners to convert break points at 2-2 and 4-2 to storm ahead.
At 5-2, Wang saved a match point with a passing winner, but misfired a return long on Kenin’s second, sending the 4th seed back into the second round where she will face a fellow American in either Madison Brengle or Christina McHale.
No 32 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova from Russia also cruised into round two with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Germany’s Laura Siegemund, and will play Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, who was a 1-6 6-0 6-4 winner over fellow qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, also from Russia.
It was a different story for Veronika Kudermetova, another Russian, who suffered a tight defeat to Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic.
The 29th seed took the opening set but was pegged back and eventually went down, 3-6 6-1 11-9.
Meanwhile, Jamie Murray has spoken out about Jo Konta’s sudden and enforced withdrawal from The Championships after being deemed a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case.
Protocols dictated that Konta must self-isolate for 10 days and therefore could not play her first round match against Katerina Siniakova.
“It’s rubbish, it’s rubbish,” Murray said, adding that it has ‘put people on edge’. “I feel really bad for her. A terrible situation to be in. There’s nothing we can do, unfortunately.”
Siniakova plays Wang Yafan from China on Tuesday, the lucky loser replacement for Konta.
Many of the women’s matches scheduled for Monday were postponed because of the late start due to the weather.