World number one Rafael Nadal breezed into the Wimbledon second round Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title.
Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, also managed to avoid falling victim to a player ranked outside the world top 100 for what would have been the fifth time in his last six visits to the All England Club.
“It’s great always to play here in Wimbledon, especially on Centre Court,” said Nadal after seeing off world number 127 Sela.
Meanwhile, three-time champion Novak Djokovic also reached round two with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win over Tennys Sandgren of the United States.
Djokovic, seeded 12, was back at the tournament where last year he was forced to retire from his quarter-final against Tomas Berdych with an elbow injury. The Serb, who was contesting his 100th career grass court match, will face either Horacio Zeballos or Guido Andreozzi, both of Argentina, for a place in the last 32.
“I’m just happy to be through of course and yes, this match gives me positive feelings. There’s still room to improve but after a while without playing on grass, of course it’s very important to start with a straight sets victory.”
Nadal, the 17-time major winner, has not got past the fourth round since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2011.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who famously stunned Nadal at the tournament in 2014, marked his 50th match at the majors with a 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Kyrgios, seeded 15, hammered down 42 aces and unleashed 78 winners.
Belgium’s David Goffin, the 10th seed, slumped to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Australia’s Matthew Ebden, playing the tournament for the first time in three years.
French Open runner-up and seventh seed Dominic Thiem retired with an injury from his Wimbledon first round match against Cypriot veteran Marcos Baghdatis.
Thiem, beaten by Nadal in Paris last month, was 6-4, 7-5, 2-0 down when he quit.
He is the third top 10 man to lose in the first round after sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov and 10th seeded Goffin. Baghdatis, a semi-finalist in 2006, will next face Karen Khachanov of Russia.
Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro made it nine first round wins in nine appearances at the tournament, breezing past Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Del Potro, who made the semi-finals in 2013, next faces Feliciano Lopez of Spain who on Tuesday set a record of playing 66 consecutive Grand Slams when he eased past Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Left-handed Lopez made his debut at the majors at the 2001 French Open.
On Tuesday, the 36-year-old broke the record for straight Slams which was previously held by Roger Federer.
“When I was about to break the record, I thought, wow, I’m going to beat Federer at something!” joked the 70th-ranked Lopez who has lost all 13 matches he has played against Federer in his career.
German fourth seed Alexander Zverev eased past world number 748 James Duckworth of Australia 7-5, 6-2, 6-0.
Zverev, who made the last 16 in 2017, goes on to face Taylor Fritz of the United States.
Kyle Edmund as Britain’s top ranked man and the world number 17 underlined his impressive rise with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Australian qualifier Alex Bolt.
Edmund made a surprise run to the Australian Open semi-finals in January, but the 23-year-old had won only one match in five previous Wimbledon appearances.
The 23-year-old takes on Japan’s Yuichi Sugita or American qualifier Bradley Klahn for a place in the third round.
Clarke, ranked 218, recently revealed he has suffered racist abuse on social media.
But the 19-year-old, who only won his first ATP level match last week, departed to warm applause from the crowd after his enthralling clash with the former French Open semi-finalist and ex-world number 10.
More to follow
Radu Albot (MDA) bt Pablo Carreño-Busta (ESP x20) 3-6, 6-0, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x7) 6-4, 7-5, 2-0 - retired
Frances Tiafoe (USA) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP x30) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-3
Kyle Edmund (GBR x21) bt Alex Bolt (AUS) 6-2, 6-3, 7-5
Bradley Klahn (USA) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2
Nick Kyrgios (AUS x15) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
Robin Haase (NED) bt Marius Copil (ROU) 7-6 (7/0), 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4)
Bernard Tomic (AUS) bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2)
Kei Nishikori (JPN x24) bt Christian Harrison (USA) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2
Damir Džumhur (BIH x27) bt Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Jay Clarke (GBR) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-4
Taylor Fritz (USA) bt Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Alexander Zverev (GER x4) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 7-5, 6-2, 6-0
Juan Martín Del Potro (ARG x5) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) bt Federico Del Bonis (ARG) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Stéphane Robert (FRA) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-1
Matthew Ebden (AUS) bt David Goffin (BEL x10) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) bt Mirza Bašic (BIH) 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
Jirí Veselý (CZE) bt Florian Mayer (GER) 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Simone Bolelli (ITA) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6), 6-1
Fabio Fognini (ITA x19) bt Taro Daniel (JPN) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
With inputs from AFP