Wimbledon - Nadal makes winning return to SW19

Tue, 22 Jun 17:07:00 2010

Rafael Nadal looked like he had never been away as he made a welcome return to Wimbledon with a ruthless 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over Japanese wildcard Kei Nishikori.

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The Spanish world number one missed out on defending his title last June as he nursed his aching knees back home in Mallorca.

On the second day of the championships, he was back on a sun-soaked Centre Court and wasted little time in tormenting an opponent who he had once tipped as a 'future top 10 player'.

The 20-year-old Nishikori, on a comeback trail after missing most of the 2009 season with an elbow injury, had the audacity to break Nadal for 3-3 in the third set but his joy was short-lived.

Nadal powered to victory with an overhead smash on match point to set up a second round encounter with Robin Haase, after the Dutchman compounded James Blake's woes with a 6-2 6-2 6-4 win.

Two-times French Open finalist Robin Soderling breezed into the second round with a rapid 6-2 6-2 6-3 demolition of American Robby Ginepri.

The Swedish sixth seed has never gone beyond the last 16 in seven previous visits to the All England Club but his total dominance of world number 72 Ginepri more than hinted he could progress further this year.

Soderling was far from rusty despite not having played since losing the Roland Garros final to Rafa Nadal earlier this month, with Ginepri blown off court in just 78 minutes.

Soderling next faces Marcel Granollers of Spain or Frederico Gil of Portugal.

Spanish eighth seed Fernando Verdasco became the highest men's seed to fall in the first round after losing 7-6(9) 6-2 6-7(6) 6-4 to Italian Fabio Fognini.

Fognini made light of his lowly world ranking of 80 and his grasscourt inexperience, the 23-year-old only having previously won twice on the surface in eight contests.

Verdasco struggled to get to grips with Fognini's serve, his plight hindered by blistered toes that required medical attention during the game.

Fognini's reward is a second round clash with Michael Russell, after the American beat Spain's Pere Riba 6-3 7-6(1) 2-6 7-6(1).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has so far saved his best Grand Slam tennis for the hardcourts of the Australian Open. He now hopes to make his mark at Wimbledon after beating American qualifier Robert Kendrick 7-6 7-6 3-6 6-4.

The 25-year-old, seeded 10, is making only his third appearance at the All England club following his debut in 2007 when he reached the fourth round.

In four tightly-contested sets, Tsonga needed the full force of his own serve to subdue Kendrick. Importantly, he never got flustered as Kendrick continued to fire down ace after ace.

The crowd-pleaser drew rapturous applause for one between the legs return early in the opening set, and showed his humorous side when acknowledging to his opponent a misguided challenge - a Kendrick ace falling well in which gave the American set point in the second set tie break.

The Frenchman shrugged off his poor judgement to save the set with an ace of his own, sent another bomb past Kendrick to go 7-6 up and then took the set when his rival netted.

Kendrick rallied to take the third but at 4-5 in the fourth, his delivery went awry and Tsonga pounced, setting up a second round clash with Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov, who beat Marco Chuidinelli of Switzerland 6-4 6-3 6-3.

Sam Querrey left Paris with his mind in a fog, his tail between his legs and questions being asked about his attitude.

A few weeks later the gloom of the French Open is fading fast and the towering American is enjoying himself on Wimbledon's lawns in Californian-type sunshine.

The 22-year-old 18th seed moved into the second round at the grass-court Slam when Ukrainian opponent Sergiy Stakhovsky retired injured after two sets of their match with Querrey in complete command at 7-6(4) 6-3 2-1.

Querrey will face Ivan Dodig next, after the Croat beat Oscar Hernandez 6-1 6-3 6-3.

Reuters

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