Wimbledon 2016 started on Monday and play was suspended with nearly all of the matches complete. The only match that did not see conclusion was the five-setter taking place between Gilles Muller and Santiago Giraldo. The two players were tied at 11-11 on an outer court when darkness called for the suspension of play, Muller looking to reverse a 0-2 set deficit from earlier in the match.
When it comes to the matches on the show courts, Centre Court saw Novak Djokovic open the day and he had little trouble defeating James Ward of Britain, winning in straight sets 6-0, 7-6, 6-4.
In the first match on Centre Court, Djokovic – searching for his fourth SW19 title – took the first nine games but Ward fought back in the second set, finally getting on the scoreboard in the 10th game, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
But Djokovic – who holds all four Grand Slam titles – showed his class and big-game experience to advance.
“James was serving with a lot of precision and it was not easy to break his serve,” the 29-year-old told media outlets.
“There is not really not much to say about the first nine games – it was flawless.
“I felt great and nerves kicked in for James. He started playing better in the second set and it got close – it was solid performance from me, though.
“This is probably the most unique experience in tennis, playing as the defending champion, on untouched grass. It is really special to feel this tradition.”
Garbine Muguruza had some trouble in her match afterward as she faced Camila Giorgi. However, the French Open champion was able to get through with a three-set victory 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. The last match of the day on Centre Court saw Roger Federer defeat Guido Pella 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.
Federer, without a Grand Slam title since winning at SW19 in 2012, was below his best but beat the world number 52 in two hours and five minutes. The Swiss will next play British qualifier Marcus Willis, who stunned world number 54 Ricardas Berankis.
Seven-time champion Federer, who missed last month’s French Open because of a back injury, said it was “nice to be back”.
“I felt great,” he told media outlets. “I’m so happy to be here. I have worked hard since February to be here and hoped not to miss Wimbledon and to be here fully fit so we will see if I am.”
The Swiss added he was “intrigued” by the progress of Briton Willis, the world number 772.
“It is what our sport needs, where guys come from nowhere,” said the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
“We have had a hard time producing those players and I am really looking forward to playing him – couldn’t be more excited.”
Other key players to advance included Kei Nishikori, who had no trouble with big-serving Sam Groth. Milos Raonic also advanced in straights sets, a good result for the Canadian as he needs to be as efficient as possible to increase his chances of staying fit for the late rounds. Madison Keys, Venus Williams, and Simona Halep were also winners on Monday, both in straight sets.
For upsets, Ana Ivanovic went out to Ekaterina Alexandrova. In her post-match interview, Ivanovic claimed that a wrist injury is preventing her from hitting her forehand with the kind of power that she normally uses. She claimed on Monday that there were some problems with the injury from Mallorca a couple of weeks ago, a tournament that she made the quarterfinals in.
Another upset saw Marcus Willis defeat 54th-ranked Ricardas Berankis. It’s not normally the case that someone beating Berankis could be called a “huge upset,” however Willis is the World No. 772. There are times when a major talent sees his ranking drift due to missed time on tour and this type of player is dangerous even when ranked low. For example, Juan Martin del Potro, when ranked outside of the Top 300, is still a threat to win Grand Slam matches. However, Willis was a totally unproven player heading into Wimbledon: you could watch tennis for ages before you see someone like him beat a tour-level mainstay like Berankis.
Next up for Willis, a match that I’m sure will be on Centre Court on Day 3 against Roger Federer (weather permitting). If we just call that a second-round loss to for the Brit, Willis still looks to gain about 350 to 360 spots in the post-Wimbledon 2016 rankings. He should have a better draw in futures events for the next year, and maybe that will help get him into the Top 200 over the longer term and into some Challenger draws.
Day 2 action is up next with Serena Williams and Andy Murray scheduled for round two action. Nick Kyrgios will also play on Tuesday as he faces Radek Stepanek. Other high-ranked players slated for Tuesday are Richard Gasquet, Dominic Thiem, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Tomas Berdych.