Wimbledon round-up: Murray clears first hurdle
All the news from the biggest games at the All England Club
Tuesday 24 June 2008
Andy Murray eased his way into the second round of Wimbledon with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7/5) victory against Frenchman Fabrice Santoro.
The 21-year-old British number one was 14 years younger than his veteran opponent and his superior power and energy made the difference in an entertaining Centre Court match full of deft shots and creative and cagey rallies.
It was the perfect start for Murray against a tricky opponent who Peter Sampras once dubbed 'The Magician' because of his ability to pull off the most imaginative of shots.
And Murray was satisfied with his efforts.
He said: "It was a really good first match. He makes it really difficult and he's unpredictable but I did everything pretty well today.
"It was a really fun match. He hit some awesome shots and really got the atmosphere going but I felt pretty comfortable."
Murray, who now plays Belgium's Xavier Malisse, broke serve in the third game with a precise lobbed winner as he traded delicate groundstrokes with Santoro.
But such was the canniness of both men that the service breaks came thick and fast.
In fact, Murray broke serve three times in the first set, the pivotal moment coming in the seventh game, which went to five deuces before Murray produced the crucial cross-court winner.
Santoro, however, was always a threat and Murray's serve was broken in the first game of the second set when Santoro tracked down a lob and produced a brilliant backhand, down-the-line winner.
The long rallies began to slow down the Frenchman, who had never played on Centre Court before and who is likely to retire this year.
Murray took control of the match when he broke Santoro's serve twice more, the second time with a lob which summed up the creative nature of the match.
Even in the third set, Santoro, enjoying his final hurrah in the late afternoon sunshine, proved a tough opponent to put away.
Murray signalled his intentions to get the job done, however, with a 134mph ace in the seventh game and a punishing drop shot in the ninth which left Santoro gasping.
But the Frenchman, outfoxing Murray on countless occasions, battled to take the set into a tie-break.
It could have gone either way but Murray, helped by the luckiest of net cords, finally wrapped it up with a backhand down the line to win the breaker 7-5.
Nadal avoids Beck pain
Second seed Rafael Nadal came through a surprisingly strenuous workout against German qualifier Andreas Beck before moving into the second round with a straight sets win on Centre Court.
The Spaniard had good cause to be surprised by the consistency of his opponent, the world number 122 who was making his grand slam debut and competing in his first ever senior event outside his homeland.
But Beck served well and provided the sort of booming groundstrokes which might have lacked Nadal's verve and variety but still gave the favourite plenty to think about.
Never unduly challenged on his own serve, Nadal secured breaks in the seventh and third games, respectively, of the first two sets then raced through a third set tie-break to wrap up a 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7/0) victory.
In fact, Nadal's biggest challenge came in the very first point of the match when he summoned a video decision on a Beck forehand towards the tramlines and was ruled incorrect by a fraction of an inch.
It was a useful exercise for Nadal, who only had cause to show glimpses of the kind of swashbuckling form which has prompted many Wimbledon legends led by Bjorn Borg to make the Spaniard favourite for the title.
And his early-round education will continue in the second round where Nadal faces a potentially much trickier test against rising Latvian star Ernests Gulbis, a winner over towering American John Isner in four sets. (PA)
Sharapova eases through to second round
Former champion Maria Sharapova enjoyed a low-key passage to the second round of Wimbledon after seeing off French qualifier Stephanie Foretz 6-1 6-4 on Tuesday.
The 2004 winner and third seed, playing her first competitive match on grass this year, took full advantage of some error-strewn hitting from Foretz who is ranked outside the top 100.
Sharapova, 21, broke twice in the opening set and although the bespectacled Foretz proved more resilient in the next, breaking her opponent for the only time, the Russian sauntered to victory without ever producing her best tennis.
Sharapova was a semi-finalist here in 2005 and 2006 and a fourth round loser to eventual champion Venus Williams last year.
Davydenko crashes to Becker
Fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko became the biggest casualty of this year's Wimbledon so far as the Russian suffered a disappointing straight sets defeat to Germany's world number 116 Benjamin Becker.
Davydenko's 6-4 6-4 6-4 loss was his fifth first-round exit in seven appearances at the All England Club, although his best run had come last year when he reached the last 16.
However, it was back business as usual on Court Two today as Becker - hardly brimming with grand slam pedigree having lost in the first round of his last six majors - made a mockery of Davydenko's lofty ranking.
The German seized control of the match from the start, serving consistently and never once losing his advantage as he marched into the second round. (PA)
Gasquet returns to familiar form on Court One
Last year's semi-finalist Richard Gasquet comfortably moved into the second round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, beating American Mardy Fish 6-3 6-4 6-2.
The eighth-seeded Frenchman returned to Court One where he memorably defeated Andy Roddick in five thrilling quarter-final sets last year and showed glimpses of the form that had led to his best grand slam finish.
Gasquet broke the 39th-ranked Fish, a finalist in Indian Wells this year, early in each set and was only fleetingly troubled by the American in one hour and 51 minutes.
He next faces compatriot and former semi-finalist Sebastien Grosjean, who overcame Italian Potito Starace 6-2 7-5 6-1. (REUTERS)
British number one disposes King
British number one Anne Keothavong battled through an epic clash with Vania King on Court Two to secure a 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory and book her place in the second round of Wimbledon.
The 24-year-old, ranked 92 in the world, had secured an early break in the first set but then struggled to hold her composure as the American number seven took control.
King capitalised on unforced errors from the Briton to lead 4-3 and then broke again in game 10 to put herself in the driving seat.
Keothavong, however, returned refreshed from an extended toilet break before the start of the second set and had soon broken the American to lead 2-1 and then 4-1 before closing out the set 6-2 as the temperature rose at the All England club.
With the match now fast moving towards two hours, both players continued to dig deep and 19-year-old King, the world number 93, took advantage of another unforced error from the British player to move 2-0 ahead.
Keothavong though dug deep to break back and then move 5-3 ahead to put herself within touching distance of the second round, which she had only reached once before.
Following four deuces, Keothavong eventually forced a match point, which she was unable to convert. However, her next opportunity came in controversial fashion when a return looked long but was called in by the umpire.
King was clearly rattled by the decision and put a return into the net to hand Keothavong victory and spark wild scenes of jubilation among the partisan home crowd.
Keothavong's reward was a second-round clash with defending champion Venus Williams. (PA)
Williams made to work for opening win
Defending women's champion Venus Williams overcame a shaky start to reach the Wimbledon second round with a 7-6 6-1 victory over British wildcard Naomi Cavaday on Monday.
The American was given a tougher than expected workout on Centre Court by the Englishwoman, world-ranked 197, who matched the seventh seed stroke for stroke in the opening set before wilting in the second.
Williams is seeking to join a select handful of players - including Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf - who have won at least five singles titles at the citadel of grasscourt tennis.
She next faces Anna Keothavong, the highest-ranked British woman. (REUTERS)
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