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LONDON: Defending champion Rafael Nadal made an emphatic start to his bid for a third Wimbledon title on Monday while five-time winner Venus Williams was back in the old routine with a dominant display.
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Nadal, fresh from a record-equalling sixth French Open, was only troubled briefly by 33-year-old American Michael Russell as he cantered to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 first round win.

Russell, who has never got beyond the second round, broke for a 4-2 lead in the first set, but Nadal then reeled off six games in succession to take the opener and lead 2-0 in the second set.

Nadal was quickly 4-1 ahead in the third set and there was no way back for the world 91 as the top seed, who unleashed 35 winners, set up a second round meeting with Ryan Sweeting of the United States.

The world No 1 is favourite to win Wimbledon and claim his 11th Grand Slam crown in the process.

Elsewhere, Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych — beaten by Nadal in last year’s final — stormed through with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Italy’s Filippo Volandri.

French ninth seed Gael Monfils defeated Germany’s Matthias Bachinger 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 and Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss 14th seed, beat Italy’s Potito Starace 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Richard Gasquet, the French 17th seed, clinched a 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 win over Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo.

Like Nadal, Venus Williams knows what it takes to lift the trophy in south-west London and the 23rd seed wasted little time disposing of Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, 6-3, 6-1.

Williams showed no signs of the hip injury which kept her off the tour for five months until her Eastbourne return last week. But she was more concerned with focusing on a satisfying return to action at her favourite Grand Slam.

Williams now takes on 40-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm who became the second oldest winner of a singles match at Wimbledon with her 6-0, 7-5 demolition of British wild card Katie O’Brien.

Date-Krumm, a semi-finalist at the All England Club in 1996 and who made her debut in 1989, had the honour of playing the first match on the new Court Three which has replaced the old Court Two, the former Graveyard of the Champions.

Vera Zvonareva, beaten by Serena Williams in last year’s final, made a winning return as the Russian second seed defeated America’s Alison Riske 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.

Russian 12th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated China’s Zhang Shuai 3-6, 6-3 6-4, while Israel’s 22nd seed Shahar Peer went down 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to Ksenia Pervak of Russia.

Russian 28th seed Ekaterina Makarova also lost, 2-6 6-1 8-6 against America’s Christina McHale.

Meanwhile, heavy rain brought Wimbledon’s Centre Court roof into action when play was halted at 1608 GMT with 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone into a final set against 2000 Wimbledon semi-finalist Jelena Dokic on the main showcourt.

Play resumed on Centre Court at 1656 GMT but the heavy rain kept the covers on all the outside courts. Schiavone won 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Results (prefix number denotes seeding):

Men’s singles:

First round: Dudi Sela (Israel) bt Frederico Gil (Portugal) 6-4, 6-1, 6-4; 6-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) bt Filippo Volandri (Italy) 6-2, 6-2, 6-1; Julien Benneteau (France) bt Ruben Bemelmans (Belgium) 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1; 17-Richard Gasquet (France) bt Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3); Ryan Sweeting (US) bt Pablo Andujar (Spain) 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1; Igor Kunitsyn (Russia) bt Igor Sijsling (Netherlands) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; Simone Bolelli (Italy) bt Martin Fischer (Austria) 7-5, 6-4, 6-4; 9-Gael Monfils (France) bt Matthias Bachinger (Germany) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3; 14-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) bt Potito Starace (Italy) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; 1-Rafa Nadal (Spain) bt Michael Russell (US) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2; Alex Bogomolov Jr (US) bt Donald Young (US) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) bt Tommy Haas (Germany) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-3; Grega Zemlja (Slovenia) bt Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4; Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; 10-Mardy Fish (US) bt Marcel Granollers (Spain) 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; Rainer Schuettler (Germany) bt 30-Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-2; Feliciano Lopez (Spain) bt Michael Berrer (Germany) 6-4, 7-5, 6-3; 31-Milos Raonic (Canada) bt Marc Gicquel (France) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Women’s singles:

First round: 6-Francesca Schiavone (Italy) bt Jelena Dokic (Australia) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Monica Niculescu (Romania) bt Sybille Bammer (Austria) 6-1, 6-1; 12-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) bt Zhang Shuai (China) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Alexandra Dulgheru (Romania) bt Jill Craybas (US) 6-2, 6-4; Christina McHale (US) bt 28-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 2-6, 6-1, 8-6; Sara Errani (Italy) bt 17-Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) 6-1, 6-4; 2-Vera Zvonareva (Russia) bt Alison Riske (US) 6-0, 3-6, 6-3; Ksenia Pervak (Russia) bt 22-Shahar Peer (Israel) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4; Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) bt Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3; 19-Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) bt Varvara Lepchenko (US) 7-5, 6-3; Elena Vesnina (Russia) bt Laura Pous Tio (Spain) 6-4, 6-3; Pauline Parmentier (France) bt Sorana Cirstea (Romania) 6-1, 6-3; 23-Venus Williams (US) bt Akgul Amanmuradova (Uzbekistan) 6-3, 6-1; Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) bt Katie O’Brien (Britain) 6-0, 7-5.—Agencies


 



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