Two-time champion Petra Kvitova made a stunning first-round exit from Wimbledon yesterday as she lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 to the unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.
The eighth-seeded Kvitova entered the tournament as one of the favourites despite having withdrawn ahead of the third round at Eastbourne last week with a right hamstring complaint. However, that didn’t appear to be affecting her as she rallied to level the match by winning the second of two closely-fought sets.
Despite the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion being vastly more experienced than Sasnovich – who has never been beyond the third round at a Grand Slam – Kvitova was the one overcome by nerves in the deciding set.
“The nerves were there again,” Kvitova said. “I just tried to kind of fight with myself.”
As Kvitova faltered, the other major contenders on her side of the women’s draw advanced in style. After losing just one set on her way to the Wimbledon title a year ago, Garbine Muguruza picked up exactly where she left off, beating British wild card Naomi Broady 6-2, 7-5.
The third-seeded Muguruza saved the only break point she faced and could have ended the encounter more swiftly had she taken advantage of her own chances.
“I’m pretty happy with my serve and controlling the emotions,” Muguruza said. “You know, to be back in a Grand Slam is always difficult, so I’m excited with the way I’m playing.”
The usual adulation afforded to the reigning champion fulfilling the honour of opening proceedings on Centre Court on day two of the tournament was tempered by the nationality of Muguruza’s opponent. Muguruza was shown respect but the home crowd backed Broady.
However, the 2016 French Open champion quickly dispelled any thoughts of an upset by breaking Broady’s opening service game, and did it again to take the first set 6-2.
Broady saved six break points in the second set before succumbing to Muguruza’s constant pressure in the 12th game.
Muguruza had no complaints. “I found the crowd very fair, with both of us,” she said. Her next opponent will be unseeded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.
Top-seeded Simona Halep, playing her first match since winning the French Open, recorded an easy 6-2, 6-4 win over Japan’s Kurumi Nara.
Australian trio Daria Gavrilova, Ashleigh Barty, and Samantha Stosur all advanced with straightforward wins.
The 26th-seeded Gavrilova cruised past US lucky loser Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 6-3. She will face Stosur in the next round, after the 2011 US Open champion defeated Shuai Peng of China 6-4, 7-5.
Meanwhile, the 17th-seeded Barty defeated Swiss opponent Stefanie Voegele 7-5, 6-3 to claim her first main-draw singles victory at the All England Club.
She will next face British 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard after her win over Gabriella Taylor.