Wimbledon - Federer downs plucky Kukushkin

Tue, 21 Jun 17:17:00 2011

Roger Federer overcame a plucky Mikhail Kukushkin and a chilly breeze to book his place in the Wimbledon second round with a classy 7-6 6-4 6-2 victory.

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The six-times champion had a very tough start last year against Alejandro Falla and although his opponent from Kazakhstan served powerfully to cause a few problems on Centre Court, there was no whiff of a shock in the blustery conditions.

Federer's hopes of matching Pete Sampras's record of seven titles at the All England club are very much alive given his recent good form but he is just taking each game as it comes.

"I struggled early on in the first set to get any read on his serve," the Swiss said.

"But then I never really struggled on my serve. I was able to actually cruise almost, you know, through lots of my service games. That then maybe probably relaxed me at times maybe a bit too much. But overall it was a good performance."

Federer had to wait until the first set tiebreak to see a glimpse of an opportunity and he took it with gusto when the world number 61 netted and then sent a wild shot whistling through the biting wind.

With the England cricket team watching on from the Royal Box, Federer began to produce his own array of cultured strokes in the second set as the fine form he showed to finish runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open continued.

Two impudent volleys and a sublime passing shot were followed by a remarkable low-bouncing slice on the grass which helped the third seed steal the break for 3-2.

From there on it was largely a windy procession for the record 16-times Grand Slam champion, who last lifted his cherished Wimbledon trophy in 2009 and next plays France's

Adrian Mannarino, after he beat Ireland's Connor Niland 4-6 6-4 7-6(7) 4-6 6-4.

"Conditions were tough. It was really tricky winds out there, which made it also tricky sometimes to time the ball well from the baseline," he said.

"I think he played a good match and made it competitive, which I thought was fun."

Novak Djokovic crushed Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-1 6-1 in a highly impressive start to his bid to win a first Wimbledon title.

The Serbian second seed, who has only lost one match all year, overpowered Frenchman Chardy with a superb display of grasscourt tennis as the evening shadows slowly made their way across a breezy Centre Court.

"It was quite difficult for both of us, a lot of wind but I managed to get that crucial break in the first set," Djokovic said.

"(Nadal and Federer) deserve the roles of the favourites in this tournament. I am one of those players behind who is trying to work hard and wait for his chance."

Djokovic, wearing a strap below his left knee, broke the world number 54 twice early in the second set to storm to a 4-1 lead.

Chardy often seemed to struggle to return his opponent's powerful shots, one of which ricocheted off the side of his racket and high into the crowd, narrowly missing an elderly lady before being caught by a steward.

The third set was largely a repeat of the second as Djokovic broke the 24-year-old's first service game to take an early lead.

A dejected looking Chardy clawed one game back from the world number two before netting the ball twice to give Djokovic the final break he needed.

Djokovic served brilliantly throughout the match, wrapping up an emphatic victory in one hour 20 minutes.

Andy Roddick, another American who has become a favourite son in the leafy suburb of London courtesy of his three final defeats by Roger Federer, also progressed to the second round.

The 28-year-old, playing in his 11th Wimbledon, beat German qualifier Andreas Beck 6-4 7-6(6) 6-3 on Court One to maintain his record of always reaching the second round.

Roddick wasted little time in unloading his 130mph serves, punchy double-handed backhands and no-holds-barred forehands but his radar was a touch off and the German matched him all the way until the American broke in the 10th game to take the first set.

It was solid, if unspectacular entertainment and the murmuring members found time to tut and chunter as the umpire called "net" instead of "let" on a succession of let services.

The second set was equally tight, going to a tie break that turned on a successful Roddick appeal against a baseline "out" call.

Thirty years ago John McEnroe was labelled a brat for daring to challenge a line call but now, with appeals enshrined as part of the game, his compatriot was giving a rousing ovation when the replay showed he was right.

Once the tie break went his way, Roddick gritted his teeth and punched his fist as he, his opponent and most of the watching crowd knew that the battle was over and he duly eased through the third set after notching an early break.

"He certainly had an obvious game plan and executed it for most of the day," Roddick said of his opponent.

"He wasn't going to rally much. He was just going to take his shots and go really aggressive and it worked most of the day.

"Normally when you have that mindset, you can count on someone making errors in bunches. Luckily he made two when he was up in that breaker."

John Isner needed only two hours to beat Nicolas Mahut 7-6 6-2 7-6 in a repeat of their record 11-hour Wimbledon first-round duel last year.

The first game of the match lasted less than a minute and although there were two tie-breaks the clash never threatened to live up to last year's three-day epic, by far the longest match in tennis history.

American Isner took control of the match by winning the first-set tiebreak and Frenchman Mahut never looked like fighting back in a subdued atmosphere on a winy Court Three.

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, crushed Italy's Flavio Cipolla 6-1 6-4 6-3 and reliable Spaniard David Ferrer beat Benoit Paire 6-4 6-4 6-4 but fifth seed Robin Soderling and former winner Lleyton Hewitt laboured through.

As a stream of fans from across the world made plans to leave the South London venue late in the day, French hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga livened them up with a typically energetic display to defeat Go Soeda of Japan in straight sets.


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