LONDON: Novak Djokovic began his Wimbledon title defence in cruise control as he blasted Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero off court to win 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round today.
The No 1 seed endured an edgy start and was broken in the third game of the first set but he struck back immediately and closed out the opener with his usual combination of rugged defence and consistently accurate groundstrokes. The Serb, who had the honour of opening Centre Court action after beating Rafa Nadal in the 2011 final, was in no mood for hanging around and broke the Spaniard twice in the second set and twice more in the third.
Five women’s seeds made winning start but No 16 Italian Flavia Pennetta became the first to fall for the fortnight. Italian Camila Giorgi provided the first upset of the event as she put out compatriot Pennetta 6-4, 6-3.
Five-time former champion Venus Williams, meanwhile, was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by Russian Elena Vesnina in the first round. The American, who had last lost in the opening round at Wimbledon on her debut in 1997, never recovered from a terrible start and lasted just one hour and 15 minutes on Court Two.
World No 1 Maria Sharapova made a brisk start to her campaign with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Australian Anastasia Rodionova on Centre Court. Polish No 3 and two-time quarter-finalist Agnieszka Radwanska took a victory over Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3 while fifth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3.
Stosur’s performance improved on recent efforts in which she lost in the first round of the past two editions. The 28-year-old has never been past the third round. The 2011 semi-finalist and 15th seed Sabine Lisicki started with a win over Crotaian Petra Martic 6-4, 6-2.
The 2011 French Open winner Li Na’s husband was moved from his proper seat by one of the overzealous stewards during her match. But Li survived the distraction to post a defeat of Ksenia Pervak 6-3, 6-1, her second win over the Kazakh in a 2012 Grand Slam after a January victory in Australia.
In men’s play, Frenchman Richard Gasquet dismissed German Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 while Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny celebrated his 30th birthday by handing luckless American Donald Young a 12th straight loss, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. France’s Julien Benneteau defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).