Wimbledon is here for 2022, and it also welcomed full crowds back into SW19 for the first time in three years, and those present for Day One of this year’s championships saw their fair share of drama already.
Sadly, before the tournament had begun it had made headline news for the wrong reasons, as sadly politics and sport mixed again, and the Wimbledon organisers had decided that any players from Russia and Belarus were not allowed to take part in this year’s competition due to the ongoing unrest in Ukraine.
This meant players like Men’s World Number One Daniil Medvedev would not be able to participate as well as five others, and on the women’s side of the draw world number six Aryna Sabalenka, who had high hopes of winning the tournament after reaching the last four in 2021, were amongst eleven female players who could not compete at this year’s competition.
The ATP and the WTA because of this have decided to penalise Wimbledon by stripping ranking points from the tournament this year, and that decision marked the most significant split among the tennis governing bodies in a long time, and it also means everyone suffers as a result, especially those who rely on these points, a very difficult situation for all, but hopefully the tennis would do the talking for the next two weeks.
The weather is always another talking point of the championships, and after what had been a rather decent spell of weather lately, cue some hefty showers on the first day of the tournament, bringing a halt to all the outside courts on a couple of occasions, but it would not be Wimbledon with some weather would it!!!
So, what of the Brits at this year’s championships, well there were seventeen of them to cheer on in total, with seven in action on Day One (should have been nine but due to weather delays earlier in the day, two were cancelled for another day), with the star attraction’s being on Centre Court as US Open champion Emma Raducanu and two-time Wimbledon champ Sir Andy Murray were in action, could they both deal with the added pressure of the home crowd?
Raducanu of course was an unknown only a year ago before she burst onto the scene at last year’s championships and went on to claim her first grand slam at last year’s US Open as a qualifier, but she came into this tournament undercooked after injury, and she was up against Belgian Alison Van Uytanck who was in very good form on the grass leading up to this tournament.
It was also the Brit’s first match on Centre Court, but she dealt with all the pressures to take a straight-sets victory over a tricky opponent to take her place in Round Two, amazing to think this time last year she was ranked 338 in the world, yet started this championship seeded ten and already a grand slam winner, no doubt she will continue to grow and grow and will be a feature in major tournaments for years and years to come.
And what of the latest chapter in Sir Andy’s tennis career then? He was up against Aussie James Duckworth on Centre Court and looking to get his latest Wimbledon campaign off to a winning start, how would the body hold up after hip surgery, he had been hitting the ball well in practice with no pain so that was a good sign perhaps.
His opponent has probably outdone himself in terms of injury scares, Duckworth has had nine surgeries during his career, so you could say this was the battle of the bionic men, it was a huge occasion for the Aussie who was playing his first match on Centre, so Murray certainly had the edge in terms of experience playing on this famous court.
But would that count for anything? Well initially it didn’t seem like that as an inspired Aussie took the first set, but once Murray got into his rhythm he took the next two sets to lead before the roof had to be closed due to the fading light.
Murray had all the momentum prior to the roof being closed, his opponent was complaining about how he could not see the ball towards the end of the third set and had seemed to have lost his focus somewhat, but early on in the fourth set he seemed to have regrouped, but after Murray broke Duckworth in the ninth game of the set, Murray served out to take his place in Round Two.
Now, normally the men’s British No.1 would be a major attraction at these Championships, but Cameron Norrie had rather come in under the radar somewhat what with all the attention on Raducanu and Sir Andy, maybe this is a good thing for the no 12th ranked men’s player in the world after a good season and two tour titles to his name this year.
Norrie was up against Spaniard Pablo Andujar out on Court Two, and despite two rain delays, one coming after Norrie had squandered match points on the Andujar serve, the Brit got the job done soon after the second resumption of play to win in straight sets and take his place in Round Two of the championships.
Let’s see how the other Brits got on, on Court 17 Yuriko Miyazaki sadly went out at the first stage, losing to Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia, whilst on Court 18 Jodie Burrage lost in straight sets, going down to Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko. A shame for Jodie but pleased for Lesia after what her country has been through, this was a brief moment of joy for her no doubt as she reached round two.
Heather Watson was in action on Court One late on in the day against German Tamara Korpatsch, and at 5-2 up in the opening set things looked good for the Brit, but an astonishing comeback from the German, who was making her debut at the championships, saw her close out the first set in a tiebreak, even saving two set points in the process, but Watson fought back to win the second set 7-5 before the match was suspended at 10.40 pm, meaning a one set shoot out tomorrow.
Finally, Jay Clarke was in action against USA’s Christian Harrison, but their match had to be suspended at 5-5 in the third set, this after the Americans had taken the first two sets, due to the fading light, meaning they will have to come back tomorrow to complete their match. Can the Brit turn that one around possibly???
And what of the top seeds in both draws who were in action today? Men’s defending champion Novak Djokovic opened on Centre and despite losing a set to Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, the Serbian came through in four sets, and number three seed Casper Ruud from Norway defeated Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets.
Young Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz, seeded five for this championship, was involved in a classic five-setter against German Jan-Lennard Struff who is ranked 155 in the world, but the fifth seed managed to fight back from two sets to one down to progress, but there was a huge shock on Court Three after seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz was dumped out by Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the Polish player reached last year’s semi-finals, but will not go past the first stage this time round.
And over on the Women’s side number three seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia defeated Sweden’s Mirjam Bjorklund in straight sets, whilst second seed Anett Kontaveit from Estonia saw off USA’s Bernarda Pera, also in straight sets, meaning both can breathe a sigh of relief after avoiding an embarrassing first-round exit.
For all of the results and the schedule for the next day, please visit the official Wimbledon website on the following page https://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/scores/schedule/index.html and I will be back with Day Two’s action tomorrow evening.