Friday 23 March 2018 / 04:22 PM

Wimbledon So Far

Rafael Nadal was the major casualty of the first round at this year’s Wimbledon Championships after the Spaniard suffered a shocking straight sets defeat to Belgian World No. 135 Steve Darcis.

Just three weeks on from spectacularly securing his eighth Roland Garros crown, Nadal inevitably went into the tournament as one of the favourites however it was clear from the outset on Court One that all was not well with the 27-year-old as he was undone 7-6 7-6 6-4.

Although keen to shy away from questions regarding his recurring knee problem in the post match press conference, it was obvious throughout that Nadal was struggling for rhythm and movement on the surface and Darcis, a largely unknown quantity on the Grand Slam scene, took full advantage.

The result meant that the two times SW19 champion has now been on the end of a dramatic upset in consecutive years following his second round loss to Lukas Rosol twelve months ago.

Andy Murray had no such problems in his opening encounter with journeyman Benjamin Becker as the Scot eased through in straight sets after receiving a heroic welcome by the crowd on Centre Court.

The reigning US Open champions breezed past the German 6-4 6-3 6-2 in just under two hours to book a second round match against Lu Yen Hsun of Taipei who accounted for Murray’s fellow Brit James Ward in four sets.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer also made smooth headway into the next round with straight sets victories over Florian Mayer and Victor Hanescu respectively.

Djokovic, who beat Mayer in the quarter-finals last year, ran out a comfortable winner again claiming a break in each set to seal a 6-3 7-5 6-4 result.

Meanwhile, Federer dropped just five games against his opponent who was made to toil for the duration as the Swiss powered to a 6-3 6-2 6-0 win.

Elsewhere in the Men’s draw, the remaining single figure seeds all progressed safely to the next round however 11th seed Stanislas Wawrinka, a consistently strong performer on grass, was ousted by veteran and 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, leaving the Aussie now in with a chance of reaching the second week and possibly facing one of the major players on Centre.

Serena Williams is the clear odds-on favourite for success in the Women’s draw once again this year and the American began her campaign in style against Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.

The 31-year-old raced to a 6-1 6-3 triumph against the World No. 93 to progress through to the second round where she will be joined by rival Maria Sharapova and last year’s runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska who both enjoyed equally resounding wins against Kristina Mladenovic and Yvonne Meusburger.

And British youngster Laura Robson will also feature in the last 64 after she managed to topple 10th seed Maria Kirilenko to the delight of Court One on Tuesday.

Kirilenko was touted as something of a dark horse prior to the tournament however she was outgunned by the home star who emerged a fabulous 6-3 6-4 winner.

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Chris Kisby

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