Somdev Devvarman, India's lone representative in the men's singles competition, was knocked out in the first round after a five-set battle against Poland's Jerzy Janowicz here on Tuesday. Devvarman, ranked 125th in the world, lost 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-3 3-6 in three hours and four minutes, but not before he gave the big-serving Janowicz a tough fight by making him go the distance on Court No.17.
Devvarman took off well by clinching the first set in 39 minutes, but his opponent — ranked 25th, but seeded 15th because of his run to the semifinal in 2013 — came back strongly to break the Indian twice in the second set and once in the third to take the lead.
The unseeded Indian found legs in the fourth set to push the match into the decider but, by then, Devvarman ran out of steam.
Janowicz was struggling with his serve throughout the match as he double-faulted 19 times to Devvarman's four but won the six crucial break points to the Indian's four to clinch the match.
To his credit, Devvarman had 14 aces, six more than Janowicz, but the Pole had 13 more winners with 61.
The last time the giant Pole was at SW19, he was firing aces at will. So much so that his big serves took him all the way to the semifinal where he lost to local hero and eventual winner Andy Murray. Fast-forward to Tuesday, and Janowicz was slotted in faraway Court 17. Well, that's what losing 10 of your last 12 matches can do to your reputation, especially at the hallowed All England Club.
In the decider, Janowicz countered Devvarman's net play with smart lobs. He broke for a 3-1 lead and never looked back. He will meet former World No. 1 and 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia next.
Tearful Bartoli, masterful Federer
Former champions littered Wimbledon's order of play, but it was Marion Bartoli who lit up proceedings first on Tuesday without having to wield a racket in anger. Seven-time champion Roger Federer found himself booked on Court One, where he crushed Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-1 6-1 6-3 while 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt grafted away on an outside court to seal his place in the second round.
Maria Sharapova, bidding for a French Open and Wimbledon double, ended the hopes of a British player named Murray — Samantha being no relation to men's singles champion Andy. The Russian crushed the local girl's hopes 6-1 6-0.
In normal circumstances Bartoli would have played Centre Court's opening match on so-called Ladies Day — the honour traditionally bestowed on the defending women's champion on the second day of the tournament in southwest London.
The Frenchwoman retired shortly after her fairytale run to the title last year, sick of the physical demands of a sport that left her barely able to lift her arm above her head.
She still honoured her appointment, though. The 29-year-old, clad in a summery cream outfit and platform shoes she designed herself, received a standing ovation from the packed stands as she walked on to the Centre Court turf just before play started.
Holding her hand was a young player from the tennis academy for disadvantaged children that was set up by British player Elena Baltacha, who recently succumbed to cancer.
It was a typically classy piece of organisation by the All England Club and a moving moment for Bartoli. "I'm sorry I got so emotional — I couldn't hold my tears being on the Centre Court and supporting #Rally4Bally at Wimbledon," Bartoli said on Twitter.
With Bartoli now retired, last year's runner-up Sabine Lisicki was asked to perform the stand-in role. The German obliged beautifully, easing past Israel's Julia Glushko 6-2 6-1.
But for all the early theatre, it was men's fourth seed Federer who stole the show, again proving he remains a force to be reckoned with at the home of grasscourt tennis. The dashing Swiss produced some dazzling moments to outclass felow 32-year-old Lorenzi.
—With inputs from agencies