Comprehensive Victories For Nadal And Halep

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)

Day 2 at Wimbledon was filled with clear, sunny skies and a 36º Celsius temperature over Centre Court. The warm conditions were just right for both of the world’s No. 1 players, Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep, at The Championships on Tuesday. Both finished the afternoon with comprehensive victories over their respective opponents, Dudi Sela of Israel and Kurumi Nara of Japan.

“It’s always a pleasure to play Centre Court at Wimbledon,” said Nadal during his post-match interview with the BBC. “It’s nice to be through to the second round. First round is never easy, especially playing on grass, but I prepared to win.”

The second-seeded Nadal rolled past the 127th-ranked Sela, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, in one hour and 50 minutes. Contributing to Nadal’s victory were: his ability to win consistently on his first serve, which produced a 79 percent efficiency rate (44 of 56 points); controlling the net, where he won 24 of 29 point opportunities; and breaking his opponent six times in 14 tries. Nadal outpointed the outmatched Sela, 95-65, which included 31 winners to 18 for Sela.

“(There) is still room to improve but after a while without playing on grass, it’s important to have a straight (sets) victory,” said Nadal during his interview session with the media after his victory. “Good start, of course. Good result. I did some things very well, and other things I have room to improve. But you are not at all times happy, of course? It’s a good start for me, that’s it.”

Meanwhile, Halep, whose 36 victories are most on the WTA Tour this season, needed just one hour and 18 minutes to beat the 100th-ranked Nara, 6-2, 6-4, and advance to the second round. It was Halep’s eighth straight win going back to the start of Roland Garros.

From the outset, the French Open champion looked ready to play despite not having any tuneups on grass before Wimbledon. Although Halep wasn’t really troubled by Nara, she had to work through some difficult moments and remain focused. As the match wore on, it became apparent that Halep found her rhythm and range. She won with confidence.

In outpointing Nara by 68-54, Halep dropped just 19 points on her serve and was broken just once. She controlled the net throughout and broke Nara four times in 10 opportunities.

“The biggest challenge for me was to come and win the first round,” said Halep during her post-match interview with the BBC. “It’s not easy after winning a Grand Slam. I wanted to be strong on my legs. 

“I gained confidence from the clay-court season. However, I have no expectations (here) because winning on grass can be difficult.”

Kvitova stunned in first round

Aliaksandra Sasnovich, ranked 50th, pulled the biggest first-round upset of this year’s Wimbledon by dismissing pre-tournament favorite and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, on No. 1 Court. The 24-year-old Sasnovich, from Belarus, pressured the No. 8 seed Kvitova into committing 20 unforced errors in the opening set and it set a tempo for things to come.

“I thought it would be a good experience for me to play against Petra, but I didn’t think about winning,” said Sasnovich, who hit 30 winners. “I gave everything I could on the court. I don’t think I’m playing the best tennis of my career yet. I have to improve all elements, starting with mental preparation, so I can play better, and I’m looking forward. “

In other men’s results:

• No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem retired from his match against Marcos Baghdatis, after trailing 6-4, 7-5, 2-0.

• No. 10 seed David Goffin was upset by Matthew Ebden, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

• No. 12 seed Novak Djokovic defeated Tennys Sandgren, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

• No. 18 seed Jack Sock blew a two-sets-to-none lead and fell to Matteo Berrettini, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5, 6-2, in a three hour and 45 minute marathon on Court 12.

• No. 19 seed Fabio Fognini advanced in four sets over Taro Daniel, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

• No. 26 Denis Shapovalov defeated Jeremy Chardy, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Alex De Minaur pulled off an upset of No. 29 seed Marco Cecchinato, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

• Frances Tiafoe upset No. 30 seed Fernando Verdasco, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3.

• Germany’s Mischa Zverev lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

In other women’s results:

• No. 6 seed Caroline Garcia lost to Belinda Bencic, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

• No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko won over wild card Katy Dunne, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

• No. 14 Daria Kasatkina beat Jana Fett, 6-2, 7-5.

• No. 15 seed Elise Mertens defeated Danielle Collins, 6-3, 6-2.

• No. 18 Naomi Osaka advanced over Monica Niculescu, 6-4, 6-1.

• No. 24 Maria Sharapova was upset by fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, ranked 132nd, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4.

• No. 27 seed Carla Suarez Navarro beat Germany’s Carina Witthoeft, 6-2, 6-4.

Noteworthy

• Women’s No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova, Men’s No. 1 seed Roger Federer and Women’s No. 25 seed Serena Williams headline Wednesday’s Centre Court schedule. In the 1 o’clock opening match, the Czech Republic’s Pliskova will face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, followed by the Swiss maestro Federer against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia. Finally, the American Williams is matched against Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria.

• Ben Rothenberg, tennis correspondent for The New York Times, noted via Twitter that it was a huge day for Australia at Wimbledon on Tuesday. The Aussies went 7-2 with victories achieved by Ash Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Sam Stosur, Alex De Minaur, Matthew Ebden, Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.