x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Wimbledon: Monica Puig pulls off upset but plain sailing for other seeds

Sara Errani out early as Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova move on.

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico celebrates beating Sara Errani.
Monica Puig of Puerto Rico celebrates beating Sara Errani.

It did not take long for Wimbledon to produce its first upset on the opening day of the tournament.

Although overshadowed by Rafael Nadal's shock first-round defeat to Steve Darcis later on in the day, Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig had 38 winners and eliminated fifth-seed Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2 earlier yesterday in the first match on Court 18 of the grass-court grand slam.

Puig, 19, playing her first grass-court tournament as a professional, outplayed the Italian with her hard-hitting baseline game. Errani was runner-up at last year's French Open and had reached at least the semi-finals of three of the last five grand slams. But on the slick grass at the All England club, she had only 13 winners and was broken four times.

Puig squandered five match points before hitting a forehand winner past Errani to close out the match.

It is the third time a top-five women's seeded player has lost in the first round at Wimbledon since 2001. The others were Martina Hingis in 2000 and Francesca Schiavone in 2010.

The loss marked another humbling Wimbledon exit for Errani.

Last year, the Italian went an entire set without winning a point in losing 6-0, 6-4 in the third round to Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan. Shvedova was the first player in a grand slam to achieve a so-called "golden set" by winning 24 straight points.

Meanwhile Roger Federer began his bid for a record eighth Wimbledon title with a 69-minute demolition of Victor Hanescu as Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka also moved into the second round.

Federer, 31, swept to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 win on Centre Court to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first triumph at the All England Club.

The seven-time champion fired 32 winners as he clinched a sixth career victory over the 47th-ranked Romanian.

"It's the most special thing to be back on Centre Court," said Federer, playing in his 55th straight grand slam and seeking an 18th major. "I still enjoy it out there. It was a pleasure to play and I'm very happy to get the first round out of the way.

"I am not sure how much better I could have played. It was good to get it done quickly as it was cold and it released some of the pressure." He next plays Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine.

Sharapova put her bitter public feud with Serena Williams to one side to reach the second round. The 2004 Wimbledon champion was given a stern test by France's Kristina Mladenovic but the Russian third seed eventually triumphed 7-6, 6-3 on Centre Court.

"I'm really pleased with this performance," Sharapova said. "My opponent played extremely well so I'm happy to be in the second round."

Second seed Azarenka, a semi-finalist in 2011 and 2012, moved into second round, beating Portugal's world No 106 Maria Joao Koehler 6-1, 6-2.

The 23-year-old Belarusian, the reigning Australian Open champion, broke down in tears after suffering a worrying fall in the second game of the second set on Court One as her right leg gave way in her service action.

Azarenka collapsed in crippling pain before her match was delayed by 10 minutes for her to have her right knee heavily strapped.

Andy Murray made history as the world No 2 cruised into the second round with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Germany's Benjamin Becker.

Murray's win on Centre Court made him the most successful British man in grand slam history as he surpassed Fred Perry's total of 106 matches won at the four majors.

The US Open champion will play Britain's James Ward or Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan in the next round.