Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Murray, Del Potro, Roddick advance
ESPN.com news services
WIMBLEDON, England -- Andy Murray has successfully begun his bid to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936.
The No. 3-seeded Murray defeated American Robert Kendrick 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 in the first round Tuesday.
A capacity crowd on Centre Court roared when Murray closed out the victory. The Scot hit 51 winners and committed only 19 unforced errors while losing serve once.
"I kind of knew what to expect today," Murray said. "I was a bit disappointed to lose the second set, because I had a couple of chances and didn't take them. I was expecting him to come out, go for some big shots and he pulled some off at the end of the second set.
"It was a tough match but once I got the breakthrough in the third I felt good. Staying calm was a big part of it because he was coming up with some huge serves at important times," he said.
Murray raised expectations among Brits when he won his first grass-court title at Queen's this month.
Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro made a mockery of his supposed lack of grass-court prowess by hammering experienced Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round.
Marat Safin lost in the first round after reaching the semifinals last year, his best showing at Wimbledon.
The 20-year-old Argentine, elevated to the top of the draw following Rafael Nadal's withdrawal on Friday, ran last year's quarterfinalist Clement ragged with a precise mix of angled winners and powerful serving.
Del Potro, who has won only two matches in two previous visits to Wimbledon, put Clement out of his misery when the Frenchman ballooned a forehand long after 1 hour, 37 minutes on Court 1.
He will face 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 winner over American Robby Ginepri, in the second round.
Ginepri won the first three games but then lost 18 of the next 21. Ginepri was bothered by a neck injury he suffered last week and received treatment from a trainer three times during the match.
American Jesse Levine upset Marat Safin in the first round. Levine, a 21-year-old qualifier from Boca Raton, Fla., beat Safin 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Safin, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has said this is his final year on tour. He has a spotty record on grass but had his best showing at Wimbledon last year, when he reached the semifinals.
"Not the way to finish Wimbledon story," Safin said. "But anyway, it's OK. That's life."
Levine, ranked 133rd, was broken serving for the match at 5-2 but held at love in the final game and smacked a service winner on match point. It was his first tour-level victory this year and his first career win over a top-50 player.
"Marat's a great player, and I've watched him play growing up," Levine said. "So it's a pretty surreal experience to be his last match at Wimbledon."
It was a sad end at Wimbledon for Safin, one of the most talented but temperamental players in the game.
He won the U.S. Open in 2000 with a dazzling defeat of Pete Sampras and made a stunning comeback in 2005 to win the Australian Open.
"I should probably have won a couple more but I'm pretty satisfied with what I did," the 29-year-old said.
He will always be remembered for being a fiery volcano who constantly erupted, breaking over 700 rackets on court in sheer frustration. Safin said he could never bottle up his emotions.
"If everything accumulates inside of me, I cannot play," he said.
After all, he argued, Roger Federer "cries after winning and that's a surprising part for me."
Safin, seeded 14th, is the brother of top-ranked Dinara Safina.
"He is honest and he doesn't hide anything," Safina said of her brother. "Like he's not a fake. Like he is how he is, on the court, off the court.
"He has this charisma, this humor," she added. "You cannot learn this. Either you have it or you don't have it."
Andy Roddick advanced to the second round by defeating Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3.
Roddick, seeded sixth, had only nine unforced errors and hit 47 winners, including 21 aces. He improved to 20-3 in tiebreaks this year.
Roddick, the runner-up to Federer in 2004 and 2005, improved to 29-8 at Wimbledon. He and Federer are in opposite halves of the bracket again this year.
Chardy was the 2005 boys' champion.
Need the scores from any match played at Wimbledon today? Results
Tenth seed Fernando Gonzalez, who lost in the semifinals of the French Open after destroying Murray in the quarters, cranked up his nuclear-powered forehand to dispatch surly Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.
The tendinitis in his right knee was clearly bothering him as he
opened his grass-court campaign.
"I didn't play great tennis today, I wasn't that happy," said the Chilean slugger, who occasionally let out yells of pain as he stretched for wide balls.
"But I served well which you need to do here. I have pain, big pain, in my knees. It's much worse on the grass and the hard courts than on the clay where you just slide instead of trying to stop," he said.
Apart from one brief hiccup in the second set when a dubious overrule followed by a netted forehand gave his opponent a break of serve and left his racket decidedly out of shape, Gonzalez looked in control.
He had 18 aces while his backhand slice, as much as his flashing forehand, kept Gabashvili guessing.
The Russian's one chance to draw even when he served at 4-3 in the second set came and went in a flash as he dropped serve easily and demolished a racket of his own.
Two games later world No. 88 Gabashvili served to stay in the second set, playing one horrendous backhand volley and serving a double fault to gift Gonzalez a two-set lead.
Olympic singles runner-up Gonzalez sped through the third in quick time but refused to look any further than a second-round meeting with Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
"I would love to play Andy again, I would love to be in the quarterfinals ... but first I have many tough matches before I can think about being here next week," he said.
No. 12 Nikolay Davydenko beat Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. British wild card Alex Bogdanovic's record at Wimbledon fell to 0-8 when he lost to No. 20 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Americans Kevin Kim, Bobby Reynolds, Wayne Odesnik and Rajeev Ram lost.
Wimbledon set a single-day attendance record on Tuesday with 45,955 fans.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.