Wimbledon Diary: Day One
Originally published on: 20/06/11 18:59
At 12 noon, Monday June 20, play kicked off at the All England Club for the 125th Championships. The President and Chairman of the AEC, the Duke of Kent and Phillip Brook officially opened new Court 3. The first two players on the site of the old graveyard court were Britain’s Katie O’Brien and veteran Japanese player Kimiko Date-Krumm; yes, amazingly, KDK will celebrate her 41st birthday in September. The Japanese player will go into the record books for winning the first ever match played on the rather attractive court and for her efforts, she gets to meet, with respect, another relative oldie Venus Williams in the second round. Venus who celebrated her 31st birthday just three days ago defeated Akgul Amanmuradova on the other boutique court, Court 2, 6-3 6-1.
There were a couple of upsets in terms of seeds making a quick exit. Tennishead favourite, Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci fell in straight sets to 35 year old Rainer Schuettler while the 17th seed in the ladies draw Kaia Kanepi was defeated by Italian Sara Errani. But it was one up for the wildcards today, with Gilles Muller dispatching Tommy Haas 7-6 7-6 3-6 6-3.
Rafa opened play on Centre Court and defeated American Michael Russell in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-2. Speaking after the match, the defending champion said “I started, in my opinion, trying to play too fast in the beginning probably”, but eventually “I started to change a little bit more rhythm with slice, trying to play a little bit longer points, try to get the forehand when I had the chance. I think I did well after that first moment of the first set”.
Francesca Schiavone was next on Centre Court against Aussie Jelena Dokic. The match started with the roof open, but at 5pm, as anticipated by the Met Office, the rain began to fall, play was suspended on the outside courts and the Centre Court roof whirred shut. After about 45 minutes the ladies match was resumed and what a competition it proved to be. Dokic double faulted at 4-3, breakpoint to give the 2010 French Open Champion, and 2011 RG Finalist, the opportunity to serve for the match, which she eventually took to wrap up a 6-4 1-6 6-3 to take her place in the second round.
Schiavone’s victory held up the start of the third match on Centre Court between the No.4 seed, Andy Murray and Daniel Gimeno-Traver until 6.30pm. Murray is one of the most experienced players under the roof, by virtue of the fourth round evening match he played two years ago against Stanislas Wawrinka. Not many of his peers can boast that experience.
It may have been that rain spoiled some of the action at the end of the day, but with Kentish strawberries and cream weighing in at £2.50, a large Pimm’s No. 1 Cup at £7.00 or a jug for £20.50, it’s always comforting that with 125 years of practise staging this event, there is always plenty to focus on, even if, for some, it was not always the tennis.