Saturday 17 March 2018 / 04:56 PM


As is tradition at Wimbledon, the men’s defending champion opened proceedings on Centre Court and Novak Djokovic, in the prime of his career, got off to the perfect start. He stormed into a 6-0 3-0 lead and opened up the potential of a rare triple bagel. However, his opponent James Ward, a British wildcard, made the second set a contest before eventually surrendering to the Serbian 6-0 7-6 6-4.

Second up on Centre Court was women’s No.2 seed and newly-crowned French Open champion Garbine Muguruza and, as expected, she was pushed by tricky Italian foe Camila Giorgi, ranked 48 in the world. Giorgi is one of the flattest and hardest hitters on tour but has no plan B and has a massive Achilles heel – her serve. In fact, she led the WTA in double faults last season with a whopping 456. Eventually the Spaniard prevailed in a slugfest 6-2 5-7 6-4. Coincidentally, the two countries being represented, Italy and Spain, were playing at exactly the same time in nearby France. Italy got the chocolates in that one, 2-0.

Roger Federer was unsurprisingly rusty as it was his first grand slam match since losing to Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The seven-time Wimbledon champion turns 35 and it feels like he’s had more injury worries this year than he has had in the last 15 years combined. He still advanced to the second round 7-6 7-6 6-3 over Argentina’s Guido Pella who had never won an ATP-level grass-court match but still managed to provide a stern test for the Swiss. It was a 303rd match win in grand slams for Federer, only three behind Martina Navratilova for the all-time record.

Perhaps the story of the day, certainly in fairy-tale terms, is Federer’s second-round opponent. Britain’s Marcus Willis, ranked 772 in the world, became the lowest-ranked qualifier to win a grand slam match since No.923 Jared Palmer at the 1988 US Open. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old lost motivation and considered retiring in pursuit of a coaching opportunity in Philadelphia. But his new girlfriend, a dentist, urged him not to quit. “Don’t know if I would have gone or not. But yeah, I met the girl. She told me not to, so I didn’t. Do what I’m told.”

Willis’ ranking was so low that he had to go through pre-qualifying to even get in the qualifying draw. After taking the long route, he then upset former junior No.1 Ricardas Berankis 6-3 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the main draw to pocket a minimum of $66,000.

Now he has the potential of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a date on Wednesday with the legendary Federer on Centre Court.

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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