Seven-time champion Federer hit the 10,000th ace of his career against Alexandr Dolgpolov before the Ukrainian gave up with an ankle injury while trailing 6-3, 3-0, while Djokovic’s bid for a fourth Wimbledon title also began with an early retirement from Martin Klizan, struggling with a calf injury, with the score at 6-3, 2-0.
The results brought a swift end to the expected day’s play on Centre Court, which began with No.1 seed Angelique Kerber’s 6-4, 6-4 win over Irina Falconi, but spectators were treated to the addition of Caroline Wozniacki’s first-round showdown with Timea Babos to the order of play. The Dane survived in three sets.
Elsewhere, No.3 seed and Eastbourne champion Karolina Pliskova surged to a 6-1, 6-4 victoryover Evgeniya Rodina and Agnieszka Radwanskaaccelerated past former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic 7-6(3), 6-0.
David Ferrer turned back the clock to upset No.22 seed Richard Gasquet for just his ninth win of the season, defeating the Frenchman 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, and Juan Martin del Potro avoided an upset against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis, who bowed out in four sets 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
Kokkinakis had stunned last year’s finalist Milos Raonic at Queen’s in the build-up to Wimbledon, but the Canadian was back at his serve-pummelling best against Jan-Lennard Struff as he posted a 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(4) victory.
There was injury heartache for last year’s girls’ singles champion Anastasia Potapova, who couldn’t continue after slipping while chasing down a drop shot and twisting her knee. The 16-year-old Russian qualifier, the youngest player in the draw, was trailing Germany’s Tatjana Mariaby a set at the time, but despite returning to court to finish the game in which she fell, she retired soon after.
But there was better news for Australian Arina Rodionova, who saved seven match points in the second set before converting her fifth in the decider to beat No.29 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 7-6(6), 9-7 for her first Grand Slam match win.
Rodionova became the sole-surviving Aussie in either men’s or women’s singles draws after Daria Gavrilova went down in a thriller of her own, 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 to Croatian qualifier Petra Martic.
There were big question marks looming over French Open semi-finalist Dominic Thiem after straight-sets defeats to world No.252 Ramkumar Ramanathan in Antalya, Turkey, and Robin Haasein Halle. But the eighth seed went some way to allaying concerns about his grass-court credentials with a convincing win over former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Vasek Pospisil, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
There were wins also for former finalists Thomas Berdych and Garbine Muguruza. Berdych, the No.11 seed, took down French danger man Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 while women’s No.14 seed Muguruza breezed past Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-4.
With the importance of the Fourth of July not lost on the Americans, it was fitting a couple of all-American showdowns made a statement. Sloane Stephens fell to Alison Riske in two but it was her return to competition that was to be celebrated. It was her first match since last year’s Rio Olympic Games due to a stress fracture in her foot. In a potential changing of the guard showdown, No.23 seed John Isner showed 19-year-old Taylor Fritz he’s in no mood to pass the baton any time yet after a convincing 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-3 result.
Stat of the day: 85 – The number of matches Roger Federer has won at Wimbledon after Alexandr Dolgopolov retired due to injury. It sets a record for men’s singles victories at the All England Club.
Quote of the day: “I’m close against good players. Wouldn’t mind playing someone who’s not as good (smiling)” – The ever-popular Thanasi Kokkinakis gives an honest assessment of his progress back from injury having drawn Kei Nishikori at the French Open and now Juan Martin del Potro at Wimbledon.