Overcast skies. Overdressed lines people. Overdressed Roger Federer. It must be Wimbledon time! Here’s what happened on Opening Day at the All England Club.
Roger Federer opened play on Centre Court today with a routine, straight-set defeat of Lu Yen-Hsun. Roger had this to say about taking Rafa’s 1:00 pm start-time: “I know that Rafa deserves it obviously more than I do this year. But somebody had to do it, so I’m very happy that they chose me, of course.”
He also had this NOT to say about Mirka’s rapidly approaching due-date:
Q. When is the baby due?
ROGER FEDERER: I’m not saying. It’s a pity we’re moving on with language right now. So sorry (smiling).
Q. The one thing you haven’t told is when the baby is due.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I won’t tell you.
Q. Is it going to be this fortnight?
ROGER FEDERER: What did I just say? I’m going to repeat myself: I’m not going to tell you (smiling).
Roger was one of the few players who looked comfortable on the grass today. Novak Djokovic, Julien Benneteau and Maria Sharapova were all skating on thin grass, so to speak. Poor Severine Bremond Beltrame skidded right out of her match against Victoria Azarenka, retiring after taking a painful-looking dive. And everyone says hard courts are hardest on the body?
Oh, I just found this photo. Don’t know how I missed it. Maybe the photo is doctored? Doesn’t look real to me – I’m not changing my headline!
Speaking of painful exits, how about James Blake, the man without a mission? Hapless and helpless. Yada yada. That decent showing in Queen’s and a boost in the draw (thanks to Rafa’s withdrawal) weren’t enough to push Blake into the second round of Wimbledon. He lost to a capable Andreas Seppi today in straight sets. He had a lot to say after the match (click here) but I’m going to leave it like this: “You know, there’s a million perks to our job, but there’s a few downsides. Losing is definitely one of them.”
Another downside? Drawing Serena Williams in the first round of a Major. She’s now 39-0. Qualifier Neuza Silva of Portugal didn’t stand a chance (though she put up a good fight). Here’s a first week prediction: Serena’s post match press conferences could be more entertaining than her matches. Check this out:
Q. There are so many new names in the game, many not from our country. Is it hard to follow who’s who?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just know the standard: everyone is from Russia. Sometimes I think I’m from Russia, too. I feel like, you know, okay, all these new ‑ovas. I don’t know anyone. I don’t really recognize anyone. You know, that’s just how it is.
Q. So are you saying you came to Compton when you were seven years old from Russia?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I am, and I think my name must Williamsova.
Wild card Michelle Larcher de Brito is still learning to charm the press. The screeching phenom beat Klara Zakopalova in two (reportedly quiet) sets but that didn’t stop reporters from peppering her with grunt questions. Of the 17 or so questions posed in the presser, only 4 were non-grunt related. The moderator actually stepped in a number of times, pleading: “No more noisy questions. Can we move on to tennis or other aspects of the match we’ve seen?”
Larcher de Brito stood up for herself: “I’m just here for myself. I’m not here really to be quiet for anybody. I’m here to play. I’m here to win. That’s it. If people don’t like my grunting, they can always leave.“
I’d say the grunting controversy is becoming more annoying than the grunting itself.
Other notable results: Sharapova (who pulled off Nike’s military jacket with aplomb), Dementieva, and Zheng Jie are through on the ladies’ side, with Wozniak and Safarova the notable exceptions. (Safarova was one of the few threats in Serena’s draw.) Last year’s Junior Wimbledon champion and British hope-to-be, Laura Robson extended Daniela Hantuchova to three sets. Everyone’s favorite Wimby sleeper-pick, Tamarine Tanasugarn got knocked out.
For the men, Novak Djokjovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling prevailed in four sets. Verdasco, Kohlschreiber, Cilic and Karlovic made it through in three. Besides Blake, Feliciano Lopez was the day’s other notable upset – going out to Karol Beck 8-10 in the fifth.
Click here for more Wimbledon Day One results.
Roger sliding photo by AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus via Daylife.