Wimbledon 2023: Iga Swiatek wins opener, Jessica Pegula advances

LONDON (Agencies): Top seed Iga Swiatek laid down a marker on day one at Wimbledon with a dominant performance over China’s Zhu Lin.

Swiatek won 6-1 6-3 against the world number 34, who was one of the highest-ranked players she could have faced.

Poland’s Swiatek, 22, is considered one of the favourites for the women’s title but has never managed to go beyond the fourth round on the grass in SW19.

However, the French Open and US Open champion began her quest to add another major on another surface in style.

In the build-up to Wimbledon, Swiatek talked about her intention to become an all-court player and believed she is now better prepared to challenge at the All England Club than she has been in previous years.

“Last year was a little bit more tricky because I felt rusty mentally, in terms of the focus tennis-wise, because I didn’t play any matches on grass,” said Swiatek, who won the junior title at Wimbledon in 2018.

“I think this year is much more comfortable for me.”

The evidence from her opening match certainly pointed to that.

Since lifting her fourth major title on the Roland Garros clay last month, Swiatek has been spending time on the trickier grass surface and reached the semi-finals of a warm-up tournament in Germany last week.

Swiatek withdrew from her last-four match on Friday through illness, but showed no signs of any after-effects as she started strongly against Zhu.

After fighting off a break point in the first game, Swiatek moved a double break up at 5-0 and, after Zhu finally got on the board after 31 minutes to a huge ovation, sealed the opener with her third set point.

The second set was not as straightforward for the world number one. The pair exchanged breaks for 2-2 but Swiatek broke again for 3-2 shortly before they were forced off court by rain.

When they returned, Swiatek quickly wrapped up victory by breaking again in the ninth game and finishing off with another stylish winner. Pegula through after being fired up by line call Swiatek is joined in the second round by American fourth seed Jessica Pegula and French fifth seed Caroline Garcia.

Pegula, 29, beat fellow American Lauren Davis 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 6-3, while Garcia won 6-4 6-3 against another American player, Katie Volynets. Like Swiatek, Pegula is a top player whose success has come away from the grass courts, having never gone past the third round at Wimbledon.

In a tight battle with 46th-ranked Davis where both players struggled with the windy conditions, she was unable to convert three match points in the second-set tie-break and had to dig deep in the decider.

Falling a break down early on, Pegula instantly put the set back on serve – after being fired up by a line-call ruling from the umpire which she thought was “significantly out”.

Pegula fought back from 30-0 to break and took Davis’ serve again for 5-3 before closing out the match. “I was able to find a little moment there where I was able to get myself going a little bit, just for the fact I was a little annoyed with that point, that circumstance,” she said.

What else has happened on day one?

Belarusian 19th seed Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former Wimbledon semi-finalist, also progressed with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 win over China’s Yue Yuan.

Russian 12th seed Veronika Kudermetova reached the second round for only the second time, beating Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi, 38, in a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 victory.

But one seed has already fallen on the opening day of the Championships.

Russian Liudmila Samsonova, seeded 15th, was beaten 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-4) by Romania’s Ana Bogdan.