It wouldn’t be Day One of a Major without a little controversy! Just after 8:30 pm, as Olivier Rochus took the third to go up two sets to one against Novak Djokovic on Centre Court, tournament referee Andrew Jarrett declared that the players would be taking a 30 minute break while the roof was closed due to darkness. Wait a second. . .I thought there was no night session at Wimbledon!
No matter, play eventually continued in front of a raucous crowd. And continued. . .and continued. Until Novak Djokovic finally prevailed in five sets and just two minutes shy of 11:00 p.m. It was only Nole’s second win in five tries against the diminutive Beligan, who is living proof of the depth of the men’s game (just don’t put Ollie in the deep end, okay?)
A slipperyCentre Court got a work out on Day One, starting with Roger Federer’s five set escape act vs. Alejandro Falla. The defending champ explained what it was like to be the first up on the sport’s most fabled court (making his 2010 debut in a blissfully uncontroversial cardigan sweater):
Q. Any question of nerves because it’s the first match? Was there a nervous factor?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, walking on down the corridor, onto Centre Court, sure, there’s always nerves involved. I kind of want that, you know, because it means the world to me to open Centre Court. It’s a dream for any player to play opening day on the perfect grass court. When I walked out for the warmup, I’m like, This court is amazing. I don’t remember it ever being so perfect, you know.
Then once you get the first couple of service games underway, I think my first game was fine during the match, then it’s fine. I wasn’t particularly nervous once the match started. Just the regular.
Roger may not have been nervous, but his fans sure were. Falla was just points from one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.
Sounds like the unsung Colombian enjoyed every moment of it:
Q. What does it feel like to play in Centre Court like that, with the brand‑new court that hasn’t been played on before?
ALEJANDRO FALLA: Is amazing. Is amazing for me playing the opening match on Centre Court against Federer, playing such a great match as I did. I just enjoyed the match every time. Really happy because I played well.
Q. When you lost in 2004, won just three games, you said that was even one of the highlights of your career. Is today in terms of the occasion the highlight of your career?
ALEJANDRO FALLA: Yeah, I think today is a special day for me in tennis, even if I lost that match. Nobody can say I was serving for the match against Federer. Many players would like to be on that situation.
Second up on Centre Court was British teen queen Laura Robson vs. World No. 4 Jelena Jankovic. J.J. came out with a tight two-set win: 6-3, 7-6 (5).
No pressure, Laura:
Q. We’d all like to see you one day win Wimbledon. It would be brilliant.
LAURA ROBSON: I would, too. I’d like that (smiling).
Q. When do you think? You don’t have a crystal ball, but…
LAURA ROBSON: It’s hard to say. Ideally I would have liked to have won it this year, but that’s obviously not going to happen (smiling).
Why don’t you give me a year. Your guess would be just as good as mine.
Over on Court 1, No. 7 seed Nikolay Davydeno had his own two sets to none hole to overcome. The top Russian, returning to tour after a long rehabilitation for a broken wrist, needed five sets and over four hours to take out South African Kevin Anderson: 3-6, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3) 7-5, 9-7.
Q. How is your body and your wrist after five sets?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: The wrist, okay. Body, I don’t know. (Smiling.)
After waiting around for Kolya to finish up, Andy Roddick took to Court 1 and beat countryman Rajeev Ram in a brisk straight sets. At least he wasn’t bored in the lockerroom.
Q. You had to wait over four hours to get on Court 1 today. What did you do in that time?
ANDY RODDICK: Play some Monopoly. Dominated some Scrabble. I watched some tennis. Watched some football. That was pretty much it.
Q. Which tennis match were you watching?
ANDY RODDICK: Challenger that was going on, a future back home in the States.
Q. You were watching Roger’s match?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I think everyone was watching that one.
No slip ups for Roddick, but there were some slips:
Three top guys managed to avoid some awful first round upsets, but others were not so lucky on Day One: Denis Istomin, who almost took out Rafael Nadal in Queen’s, beat the second Swiss and No. 20 seed Stan Wawrinka. World No. 197, Ivan Dodig, is now the last Croatian left in the draw after No. 11 seed Marin Cilic was beaten by Florian Mayer and Michael Przysiezay of Poland took out No. 17 seed Ivan Ljubicic. 30th seed, Tommy Robredo, was ousted by Peter Luczak.
On the women’s side, the biggest upset that wasn’t, really, was French Open Champ Francesca Schiavone’s three set loss to Vera Dushevina. No. 34 seed Kateryna Bondarenko lost to Hungarian Greta Arn. And though it’s insulting to No. 13 seed Shahar Peer to call it an upset, Ana Ivanovic and her loyal fans will be upset that Peer took her out in straights.