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Rediff.com  » Sports » Wimbledon PHOTOS: Vekic knocks out Stephens; Wozniacki, Cilic advance

Wimbledon PHOTOS: Vekic knocks out Stephens; Wozniacki, Cilic advance

Last updated on: July 03, 2018 00:55 IST

IMAGES from the matches played on Day 1 of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Monday.

Croatia's Marin Cilic returns against Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during their men's singles first round match

IMAGE: Croatia's Marin Cilic returns against Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during their men's singles first round match. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Last year's runner-up Marin Cilic made a solid start to the Wimbledon championships with a clinical 6-1 6-4, 6-4 victory over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday.

 

Croatian Cilic, who lost last year's final to Roger Federer, underlined his credentials for another Grand Slam title bid to add to his U.S. Open triumph in 2014.

The lanky 29-year-old third seed served 21 aces and made four service breaks in a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes on Court Two against a young opponent coming back from major knee surgery.

Cilic's preparations were boosted eight days ago when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final to lift the Queen's Club trophy, his 18th ATP Tour title.

Wozniacki blows away Lepchenko on Centre Court

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki plays a return against USA's Varvara Lepchenko

IMAGE: Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki plays a return against USA's Varvara Lepchenko. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Caroline Wozniacki crushed a nervous Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 6-3 on Centre Court when she opened her bid on Monday to add Wimbledon to her Australian Open crown.   

The Danish second seed strolled though the first set before meeting some resistance from her American opponent at the beginning of the second, finding herself a break of service down before recovering to wrap up the win in 59 minutes.

“It was great just to get in and out. I didn’t have much of a turnaround from Eastbourne,” she said referring to the preparation tournament she won on Saturday.

 “It was nice to get on court today, win, then I have a day off tomorrow. I can enjoy a little bit of downtime,” added the 27-year-old.

Wozniacki, who took her tournament tally to 29 titles at Eastbourne, said she was comfortable on grass as she looks to progress beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time.

 “I love playing on the grass. It’s great. I love this surface,” said the former world number one, who added that her victory at Eastbourne was a more immediate boost than having won the Australian Open in January.

 “Right now I think Eastbourne. I just won that a couple of days ago. I feel like I’m hitting the ball well, I’m doing great,” she said.

 “Obviously, the Australian Open is a great booster, as well, knowing that I can do it and I’ve gone all the way in a Grand Slam. It feels great.”

Vekic knocks out fourth seed Stephens

Donna Vekic

IMAGE: Donna Vekic celebrates winning her first round match against Sloane Stephens. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

US Open champion Sloane Stephens tumbled out of Wimbledon on the first day on Monday, looking rusty and out-of-sorts in her 6-1, 6-3 defeat by Croatia's Donna Vekic.

The 25-year-old fourth seed, who played no grass warm-up tournaments after reaching the final of the French Open on clay, looked uncomfortable on the fast surface, moving awkwardly and failing to find the lines.

Vekic, winner at Nottingham last year and a semi-finalist there last month, looked more footsure and aggressive, serving powerfully and forcing her opponent into errors. After breaking serve twice, the Croatian needed only one set point and 25 minutes to wrap up the first set.

Stephens showed some steel at the start of the second set, winning the first two games to love with some powerful serve-and-volley tennis, but she could not keep the rhythm going.

Vekic, who played in three grasscourt tournaments coming into Wimbledon, won the next three games, moving nervelessly along the baseline and punishing less-than-pinpoint serves with bullet-like returns.

The Croatian's own demon -- the double fault -- came back to haunt her in the sixth game. She served two in the next game out of a total of nine in the match, to offer Stephens a lifeline.

But the listless American could not take it. Her shots continued to fly wide and long off her racket and she produced 26 unforced errors in total in the match.

Vekic earned her first match point in the ninth game when Stephens hit the net. Stephens saved that with a blistering crosscourt forehand and then successfully defended another two.

She finally succumbed by dumping another forehand into the net on the fourth match point.

"I tried to be aggressive." Vekic said of her game-plan. It was the 22-year-old's biggest career victory.

Querrey focussed on long run

Sam Querrey's honeymoon plans might be staying on hold for a while if the American continues to play as he did in his Wimbledon opener against Jordan Thompson on Monday.

The 11th seed married fiancee Abigail Dixon on June 9 but the big-serving 30-year-old has been hard at work preparing for the year's third Grand Slam ever since.

Last year's beaten semi-finalist looked smoothly impressive in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 first-round win to set up a meeting with wildcard Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine.

Another long run could be on the cards.

"Not really. We went home for three days and flew over for Queen's," Querrey said when asked whether he had managed to squeeze in a honeymoon. "If you count that as a honeymoon. I don't think she does.

"Maybe down the road. Neither of us want to really take a honeymoon right now. We travel so much during the year anyway.

"Maybe at the end of the year we will do a honeymoon somewhere close to where we live."

Querrey, one of 14 American men in the main draw, has not always found Wimbledon's lawns to his liking which is curious considering the natural weapons he possesses.

In the last couple of years something appears to have clicked though. Last year he ended defending champion Andy Murray's hopes in the quarter-finals before losing to Marin Cilic in the semi-finals -- his best Grand Slam run to date.

He also reached the quarter-finals in 2016 when he beat another defending champion, Novak Djokovic.

"I like playing here. I like playing on the grass," Querrey, who won 39 of his 42 first-serve points against the Australian world number 99, said. "I'm hoping I can make another run like the last couple of years."

Querrey is well-known for his calm demeanour on court but it has nothing to do with complex psychology, more to do with trying to read his putts on the locker room carpet.

"A lot of times I'll chat in the locker room. They have a little putter, putt some golf balls. Chat with friends," he said when asked what his pre-match routines consist of.

"They have new carpet in there this year so we don't really know who's read it yet. If Mardy Fish was still playing it would be him (the best putter)."

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