Nadal settles in at Wimbledon with easy opening win

June 25th, 2008 - 1:19 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 24 (DPA) Two-time finalist Rafael Nadal set up match points with a 17th ace as he completed an opening win at the Wimbledon Championships Tuesday 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) over German qualifier Andreas Beck. While the number 122 outsider was making his Grand Slam singles debut, compatriot Benjamin Becker was notching the first big upset of the fortnight with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 shock of fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko.

Nadal, the second seed, followed Roger Federer into the second round with a straightforward win a day after the five-time Swiss champion moved through.

Nadal, who has lost the last two finals at the All England club to the number one, had to work to get accustomed to the game of the 1.90-metre Beck, aged 22 and a quarter-finalist on grass this month in Halle.

“The first match is always very difficult,” said Nadal, who stepped straight from a fourth consecutive French Open title and into his first trophy on grass at Queen’s club a week later.

“It was tough to read his serve, and he served a lot to the body. “I played well in the tiebreaker,” said the Spaniard with the fast grass court learning curve who improved to 16-4 at Wimbledon.

“I was a little bit nervous today, but I have nice memories here from the last two years. It might be difficult to continue my momentum, but it is one match at a time.”

Davydenko’s loss to Becker, ranked 116, was his fifth in a first round from seven appearances at the tournament.

“I just felt so slow,” said the Russian. “On this soft grass you have to be much faster and play faster. From the beginning I felt I had been hitting faster on a clay court.

“It’s a really different feeling between the two surfaces.”

A pair of French seeds advanced on a brilliantly sunny day, as number eight Richard Gasquet sank American Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-4, 6-2and Paul-Henri Mathieu, the number 14, beat Spaniard Oscar Hernandez 3-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-2.

Nicolas Kiefer defeated Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 while injury-prone Tommy Haas stopped Guillermo Canas 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to put two more Germans through.

Women’s 2004 winner Maria Sharapova debuted her “menswear” tuxedo shirt and shorts look in a quick win over Stephanie Foretz 6-1, 6-4.

The match on grass was the first on grass for the Russian third seed in a year and her first since losing a Roland Garros fourth-round match.

Four-time champion Venus Williams, seeded a distant seventh, struggled for almost an hour in a marathon first set before knocking back a British challenge as she beat number 197 teenager Naomi Cavaday 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

The win propelled the American on her way as she bids for a fifth trophy at the All England club after playing in only a handful of events this patchy season.

Cavaday, 19, accounted well of herself despite losing in the opening round for the third straight year.

Williams improved to 52-7 at the event where she has enjoyed the majority of her career success.

“A lot was to her good playing. I had some opportunities and made a couple of errors in a row,” said Williams, competing at Wimbledon for the 12th consecutive year. “She forced some errors from me.

“But I felt confident throughout, I always feel good out on Centre court.”

Williams fired six aces and broke three times, losing her own serve once early in the contest.

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