Rafael Nadal won his first match at Wimbledon since winning the title back in 2008. He defeated Japanese player Kei Nishikori on Centre Court 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. It was a satisfying return for Nadal after missing the 2009 tournament with knee injury.
It was the second meeting of the two players, and Nadal made it look much like the first. In the first set, Nishikori didn’t test Nadal much as he was broken in the first and seventh games. The second set proved more difficult, and the 189th ranked player in the world stayed with the Mallorcan until the eighth game.
Nadal was able to win the final two games, and the set. He quickly broke in the third and final set to shut the door on Nishikori. The Spaniard only lost on his service game once, and committed just 16 unforced errors during the match.
“It’s always special to play on this court,” said Nadal. “I’m very happy to come back to this tournament and play in probably the most beautiful and emblematic court in the world. I played well. I think I played very good match. To be the first match here, I’m very happy.”
Local favorite Andy Murray looked to be in trouble of being upset in his first round match against Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic, but won 17 of the last 21 games to finish in victory 7-5, 6-1, 6-2. Murray trailed 4-2 in the first set, but then found his game to earn a spot in the next round against either Austrian Stefan Koubek or Finnish player Jarkko Nieminen.
“The start of the match was tricky,” admitted Murray. “I haven’t seen him play that much. He started very well. But once I got back into the first set, I did start to feel a lot more comfortable. Served well and didn’t give him many chances. Definitely got better as the match went on.”
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also emerged from the first round victorious, defeating American Robert Kendrick. The match was probably the closest of all the first round heavy-hitters lasting 2 1/2 hours. The final line saw Tsonga the winner 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4.
“Robert is a very good player. I knew before the match it would be difficult, and it was,” said Tsonga. “So I’m really happy to win today. He served unbelievable and I didn’t return a lot, but enough to win this match. It’s good. Now I’m better. I’m healthy. Everything is okay. So I hope I will continue like this.”
Other notable winners from Tuesday include Americans James Blake and Sam Querry. Spaniard David Ferrer also advanced as did Florent Serra and Mikhail Youzhny.
Tennis sportsbooks have set Roger Federer as the overall favorite to win the 2010 Wimbledon tournament at 7/4. Nadal is a close second at 2/1 followed by Murray and Andy Roddick at 9/1.