A proud son and athlete as Rafael Nadal took his Wimbledon title defense yesterday , beating Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 while his parents watched from the Royal Box.
In keeping with tradition, the defending men’s champion played the first match on Centre Court at the All England Club – and the top-ranked Spaniard put on a worthy performance to begin the 125th edition of the championships.
“I started so-so in the first set, but after that I start to hit very well the forehand and I think I finished playing a very good level,” Nadal said.
Nadal, coming off his sixth French Open title and 10th overall Grand Slam championship, double-faulted to go down a break 4-2 in the first set against the 91st-ranked Russell. But Nadal buckled down, ran off six straight games to take the set and go up a break in the second. He was in command the rest of the way against the 33-year-old American.
Five-time women’s champion Venus Williams, back on her favorite grass surface, also swept into the second round with a straight-sets win over 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan.
Williams’ second-round opponent will be Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, who became the second oldest women to win a match at Wimbledon, beating Katie O’Brien, 6-0, 7-5, on Monday.
”It’s always great to be back,” Williams said. ”To play a few matches at Eastbourne helped me feel pretty comfortable here. All in all, I’m pretty pleased. I only see pluses for today. I missed being out here playing.”
Williams made a statement not only with her tennis but with her fashion sense – wearing a one-piece playsuit which exposed some of her back. The outfit featured cutout sleeves, a deep V neckline and a gold belt wrapped around the waist.
”It’s a jumper,” Williams said. ”Jumpers are very ‘now,’ as is lace. The shoulders have a lot of draping. It’s a kind of trendy dress. It’s fun. The back is a like a cutout or peekaboo. I’m always trying to do something different and fun.”
In another featured women’s match, 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva downed 115th-ranked American Alison Riske, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.
Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who lost to Nadal in last year’s final, moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Filippo Volandri of Italy.
Tenth-seeded American Mardy Fish beat Spain’s Marcel Granollers, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4. Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, playing his first Wimbledon, topped Marc Gicquel of France, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3. No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Potito Starace of Italy, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.