Wimbledon | The Championships kick off with wins for Swiatek, Pegula and Garcia, amongst others

World No 1 Iga Swiatek opened proceedings on No 1 Court by cruising into the Wimbledon 2nd-round with an emphatic 6-1 6-3 win over China’s Zhu Lin in 81 minutes, laying down a marker that, this year, the top seed means business on the grass of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

I felt pretty poor out there. What’s amazing was I had a chance to win playing not great tennis. I still feel like I have so much to improve on. I’ve had a really good grass-court season. It’s just disappointing that my worst match of the grass-court season came here. Naturally being British, you want to play well here. I just didn’t really get going. She also made it tricky for me. Credit to her, she played better tennis than me today. Harriet Dart

The 22-year-old Pole, who won the French Open title for the 3rd time last month to make it 4 Grand Slams to her name now, says she is still learning about grass, and targets the quarter-final as a reasonable appearance.

“I felt really confident. I felt like I did a very good job,” said Swiatek, the junior champion at Wimbledon in 2018. “I feel really good after Roland Garros. After Roland Garros I took some time to appreciate what happened.

“Last year it was my second Grand Slam [at the French Open] and it felt overwhelming. This time I could focus on celebrating, and actually at getting back to work with more peace in my head.”

Although she has yet to get past the 4th-round at The Championships, she carries an air of authority about her that has been lacking previously.

Zhu, ranked No 34 in the world, earned herself a break point in the first game, but Swiatek won 11 points in a row to sprint out to a 3-0 lead, pounding her forehand into the corners and pouncing on anything short.

Another break put Swiatek, a renowned slider on clay and hard courts who has often struggled with her movement on grass, was now firmly in the driving seat, despite a nasty slip as the Pole approached winning a bagel set.

Zhu saved 2 set points at 5-0 and held, only for Swiatek to pocket the set a game later with a powerful crosscourt forehand winner.

They traded breaks early in the second before Swiatek, who pulled out of her Bad Homburg semi-final on Friday due to illness, earned another one to go 4-3 up when play was interrupted by rain.

It resumed after the roof on No 1 Court was closed, and Swiatek needed only 7 more minutes to win the 2 games she needed, scoring the win with a stunning backhand winner.

“I think it was a really solid performance from me, so I’m happy that I could just play my game and be in the rhythm, even though it was the first round,” Swiatek told the media later. “I actually haven’t got the experience, I think, of suspended match, then coming back after just, like, 15 minutes. I wanted to see how it’s going to go. So I’m happy that it went well and I could close it.

Swiatek will meet Sara Sorribes Tormo in round 2 after the Spaniard beat Italian Martina Trevisan, 6-3 6-1.

Alycia Parks will be Ana Bogdan's next opponent, who upset 15th-seeded Liudmilla Samsonova in her opening match at Wimbledon

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liudmila Samsonova, the World No 15 from Russia, was the first seed to exit at the hands of Romanian Ana Bogdan, ranked 57 in the world, 7-6(1) 7-6(4).

The Russian was making her return to Wimbledon after players from her nation were banned last year, and she has vocally shared her anger over being barred from The Championships.

The 24-year-old was one of dozens of players affected by last year’s ban on Russians and Belarusians, a move made by the All England Club in response to the Ukraine war.

“I think we are all very angry about the situation,” Samsonova said at the Citi Open in Washington last year, her first tournament after missing Wimbledon. “I mean, it was a really tough month what was going, so I think we have a lot of time to work, so, I think, we use it very well. So that’s it, I think.”

Samsonova went on to win the title in Washington channelling her anger into success.

While she was able to make it to Wimbledon this year, Samsonova will be heading home much earlier than anticipated, while, Bogdan progresses into the 2nd-round to face Alycia Parks from the USA, who was a 6-4 6-3 winner over Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Jessica Pegula (R) needed 3 sets to get past compatriot Lauren Davis to open her Wimbledon campaign

© Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Image

Fourth seed Jessica Pegula also made it through to the second round, but she was made to work hard against fellow American Lauren Davis.

After comfortably winning the opener, Pegula was pegged back as it went into a decider, only for her to regain control and seal a 6-2 6-7(8) 6-3 win after 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Davis struggled to find her range at the start, and was broken in the first game, which set the tone for the next few as she racked up the unforced errors and Pegula raced into a 4-0 lead in less than 15 minutes.

Finally finding her forehand power, Davis managed to get herself onto the scoreboard, but Pegula’s pinpoint backhand accuracy meant she never got close to breaking back, and the Australian Open quarter-finalist comfortably wrapped up the first set.

It was a different story in the second, though, with Davis making sure she held serve in the opening game with a couple of drop-shots that forced Pegula to fire long, and held again to lead 2-1.

Both struggled with the gusty wind at times, but Davis began moving the ball around the court with power and precision.

The close second set lasted over an hour and went to a tiebreak, with Davis taking it to level the match.

Neither looked particularly comfortable on the grass of Court 2, each making more than 30 unforced errors in total, but Pegula got the crucial break in the decider to lead 5-3 when Davis hit a backhand into the net.

Pegula closed out the match with a high backhand volley to advance to the 2nd-round, where she will face Spain’s Cristina Bucsa, who went the distance before beating Kamila Rakhimova from Russia, 6-3 4-6 7-6(9).

“Definitely a tough match,” Pegula said. “I think Lauren is a good grass court player. Obviously, she’s had great results here before, beating [Angelique] Kerber a few years ago.

“I hit, kind of, flat so it stays low for her, especially on the grass. It was very windy, so it was hard to really feel like you could get any momentum going, because then you’d have the wind gusting. It would, kind of, keep you off balance and unstable,” she added.

Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, a two-time US Open champion and seeded 19, also needed 3 sets to get past  Yuan Yue of China, 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Azarenka has not been in the greatest form of late, and it showed in spells against Yuan, nearly falling in an encounter that last 2 hours and 39 minutes, but she managed to hold it together, sealing the win in a match, which she probably should have won more comfortably in 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Diane Parry went the distance to defeat Harriet Dart (L) in her opening round match

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Britain’s Harriet Dart was the first home player to be knocked out as she lost in 3 sets to 20-year old Frenchwoman Diane Parry, and she was gutted.

Wild-carded into the draw, Dart had progressed beyond the 1st-round in 2 of her 4 Wimbledon appearances heading into this year’s Championships, but the quality of Parry, a former Junior No 1, eventually prevailed, 6-7(4) 6-0 6-4.

Dart had strapping on her right shoulder and struggled on first serves early in the match, falling 0-3 down as Parry quickly mastered the blustery conditions with 2 breaks of serve.

One break back saw Dart get on the board, and she then levelled at 5-5 with a stunning cross-court backhand in the best rally of the match.

Dart bellowed out an exasperated ‘seriously!’ when an error gifted Parry the early advantage in the tiebreak, but the British No 4 rallied with 2 winners to seize the initiative, and won it, 7-4.

The second was an entirely different story, and, despite being spurred on by the crowd and her corner on a court so open to the elements, Dart’s resistance waned as she quickly succumbed to the bagel in 32 minutes.

Undeterred, Dart then broke to win the first game of the decider, only for Parry to reply in kind before breaking in the 10th game to seal a hard-fought win after a 2 hour 18 minute tussle.

It was a bitter blow considering the 26-year-old Brit’s excellent form in the build-up to her home Grand Slam, having reached the quarter-finals in Nottingham and Birmingham, but she could not to produce her best when it mattered on the big stage.

“I felt pretty poor out there,” Dart admitted. “What’s amazing was I had a chance to win playing not great tennis. I still feel like I have so much to improve on.

“I’ve had a really good grass-court season. It’s just disappointing that my worst match of the grass-court season came here. Naturally being British, you want to play well here.

“I just didn’t really get going. She also made it tricky for me. Credit to her, she played better tennis than me today.”

Elsewhere, Russian Daria Kasatkina, the No 11 seed and Eastbourne finalist, won against American Caroline Dolehide, 6-1 6-4, to reach the 2nd-round on Monday evening, and she will take on Jodie Burrage next, after the British No 2 dispatched Caty McNally, 6-1 6-3, another American.

5th-seeded Caroline Garcia has a game suited to grass and she saw off Katie Volynets in straight sets on Monday

© Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

France’s Caroline Garcia overcame the elements and a lively opponent to also advance, beating American Katie Volynets, 6-4 6-3, in a match interrupted by drizzle.

Garcia, seeded 5, has a game well-suited to grass and used her speed and agility at the net as well as powerful returns to grind down her 21-year-old opponent, winning 18 points at the net to 4 for Volynets.

The swirling wind disturbed both women’s serving, and it was Garcia’s fearsome forehands that earned her the upper hand.

She brought up set point with a backhand that Volynets, ranked 125 in the world, could not get hold of, and then won it with an unplayable forehand return.

The 29-year old has twice reached the 4th-round at Wimbledon, and suffered a brief wobble at the start of the second, spraying unforced errors around the court as Volynets took advantage, breaking serve twice for a 3-0 lead.

As it happened, those were the last games won by the America, whose only previous Wimbledon main draw appearance in 2021 also ended in 1st-round defeat.

“I had to have a reaction and I was able to come back quickly,” Garcia said in her on-court interview.

The Frenchwoman surged back with aggressive volleying to win the next 4 games and take command of the set before drizzle stopped play for nearly an hour and a half.

When play resumed, Garcia did not hang about, winning the 5th game in a row when Volynets served a double-fault, and then held for the match, driving her backhand, and finishing with another forehand winner.

“On grass, there are no easy matches,” Garcia said. “I am glad I was able to finish early.”



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