LONDON: Top seed Novak Djokovic and defending champion Andy Murray stormed into the Wimbledon second round yesterday with such speed that All England Club organisers had to pad out the Centre Court schedule.
Murray took out baby-faced Belgian, David Goffin 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in a shade over two hours while Djokovic, the 2011 champion and runner-up to the third-seeded Briton in 2013, needed just 88 minutes to dispose of Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev, 6-0, 6-1, 6-4.
In between, Li Na, the women’s second seed, took only 77 minutes to get past Polish qualifier Paula Kania.
As a result, Centre Court fans in possession of the hottest tickets in town were treated to 10th seeded Dominika Cibulkova facing Canadian qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak as a closing gesture.
Murray, bidding to become the first British man to successfully defend a Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936, hit eight aces and 28 winners past world number 104 Goffin.
“I thought it was a very high standard of match, we played some great rallies, and I was glad to finish it in three sets because he was playing very well,” said Murray.
The British star was never broken as he brushed past the 23-year-old Goffin with new coach Amelie Mauresmo and former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal looking on from the Centre Court stands. Murray, who has made at least the semi-finals on his last five appearances at the All England Club, goes on to face Slovenia’s Blaz Rola.
Djokovic, playing for the first time since losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal, won the first 11 games of his Centre Court mis-match against world number 55 Golubev who has now lost all four of his main draw appearances at Wimbledon.
The Serb fired seven aces and 34 winners and next tackles Czech veteran Radek Stepanek for a place in the last 32.
“It was a great start, especially in the first two sets. Credit to Andrey for coming back in the third, but I cannot be happier with the performance,” said Djokovic. Murray and Djokovic were joined in the second round by Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych, the 2010 runner-up, who came from a set down to beat Romania’s Victor Hanescu, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer, twice a quarter-finalist, also made it through by seeing off compatriot Pablo Carreno-Busta 6-0, 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 6-1.
Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian 11th seed who won the Queen’s title last week, beat Ryan Harrison of the United States, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-2.
But Spanish 18th seed Fernando Verdasco, who took Murray to five sets in the quarter-finals in 2013, was knocked out by Australia’s Marinko Matosevic 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Chinese women’s second seed Li Na, a three-time quarter-finalist, got back on track after her French Open misery thanks to a 7-5, 6-2 win over Kania.
Li suffered her worst Grand Slam performance since 2011 when she slumped to an opening round exit against Kristina Mladenovic in Paris.
But the 32-year-old from Wuhan was too strong for world number 183 Kania, hitting 24 winners to set up a second round meeting with Austria’s Yvonne Meusburger.
Former women’s world number one Victoria Azarenka won her first match since January as the eighth seed triumphed 6-3, 7-5 against Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who was a semi-finalist back in 1999.
The former Australian Open champion has been plagued by a left foot injury which kept her off tour from Indian Wells in March to Eastbourne last week where she lost her opener to Camila Giorgi. Kirilenko, who had won just one match all year after a lengthy battle with a knee injury, claimed victory on a sixth match point.
Australian 17th seed Samantha Stosur fired 13 aces but still suffered another Wimbledon nightmare when she slumped to a 6-3, 6-4 defeat to Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer.
The former US Open champion has now failed to get beyond the third round in 12 Wimbledon appearances.
Five-time champion Venus Williams, the 30th seed, beat Spain’s world number 53 Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Czech sixth seed Petra Kvitova beat compatriot Andrea Hlavackova, 6-3, 6-0.AFP