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Let it shine: Day 2 preview

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Originally published on: 21/06/11 09:11

After rain so rudely brought an early halt to proceedings at the All England Club yesterday afternoon, the organisers were left with their first headache of the tournament. But not to worry, June 21 marks the summer solstice, and with every minute of sun needed to get through today’s order of play, which includes some of yesterday’s unfinished business, the longest day of the year couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Today marks Serena Williams’ long-awaited grand slam return, as the defending champion lines up against Aravane Rezai of France on Centre Court. The 29-year-old returned to competitive action at Eastbourne last week, after a series of unfortunate incidents saw her sidelined for almost a year. The defending Wimbledon champ sliced open her foot on a piece of glass in 2010, only a couple of weeks after picking up her fourth Wimbledon title. As she was preparing for her comeback earlier this year, she suffered another setback with blood clots in her lungs and a haematoma in her stomach. To say the American has earned her rub of the green is an understatement and she will be hoping to kick-start the defence of her title in style with victory against an out-of-form Rezai.

The second match on Centre Court sees six-time champion Roger Federer open up his account against the unknown Mikhail Kukushkin from Kazakhstan. The Swiss, who must be paying rent with the amount of time he spends on the main show court, will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last year when he was pushed all the way to five sets by Alejandro Falla in the first round.

Novak Djokovic completes the Centre Court line-up as he looks to put an end to his one-match losing streak when he takes on Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. The Serb has been in scintillating form so far this year with his only loss coming against Federer in the semi-finals at Roland Garros.

Court No.1 produces some more big names on Day 2 with Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling facing German opposition in the form of qualifier Andreas Beck and Phillipp Petzschner respectively. Court No. 1 is also the venue for world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, and the Dane will be looking for a confident start against Arantxa Parra Santonja as she goes in search of her maiden grand slam title.

Court No. 3 will see the return of marathon men John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. The schedulers were feeling optimistic when they placed them fourth match on after 12pm with a women’s game to follow at the conclusion of their match. Last year it took them over 11 hours to get the job done with Isner finally prevailing 70-68 in the decider. Imagine what will happen this year if the rain decides to get involved?

China’s Na Li returns to the grass today after her heroics in Paris. The Roland Garros champion will be looking to replicate her clay-court form at SW19, and first up for Li is Russian Alla Kudryavtseva.

Former champion Maria Sharapova has not yet been specified a court for her match against Anna Chakvedatze, but the duo is expected to play today. The all-Russian affair will be scheduled in accordingly when court availability becomes clearer throughout the day.

There is plenty of British interest on show and leading the way for the home nation will be James Ward, fresh off the back of his semi-final run in Queens. He will have to overcome 19th seed Michael Llodra – who may love grass, but has fallen in round two on five occasions – on Court No.2 if he is to progress to the next round. British tennis fans will also be hoping teenager Heather Watson can continue her good run of form when she takes on Mathilde Johansson of France, while compatriot Elena Baltacha is third up on Court No.12 against Mona Barthel of Germany.

Other big names on show around the ground today include David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Viktor Troicki, Fernando Verdasco, Julie Goerges, Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic.

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