Nadal perfect at Wimbledon, Murray set for start

Rafael Nadal kept his perfect record of never having lost a Grand Slam first round tie Monday.

London: Defending Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal kept his perfect record of never having lost a Grand Slam first round tie Monday while Andy Murray launched his bid to end Britain`s 75-year wait for a men`s winner.

Nadal, fresh from a record-equalling sixth French Open and 10th major in total, saw off 33-year-old American Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win as the Spaniard opened proceedings on Centre Court on the first day of the 125th Championships.

The top seed, who unleashed 35 winners, set up a second round meeting with another American Ryan Sweeting who came from two sets down to beat Spain`s Pablo Andjuar.

Nadal`s win also extended his perfect record of having never lost a first round match at a Grand Slam event with the 25-year-old now standing at 29-0 in his career.

Nadal said he was delighted to be able to return to Wimbledon to defend his title, something which was denied him in 2009 because of a knee injury.

"It`s a very, very big emotion to come back to this beautiful court. Everything was perfect," he said.

But Nadal refused to look too far ahead in the tournament and possible showdowns with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

"Let`s not talk about what might happen in 12 days. I might be here or I might be home fishing in Majorca," said Nadal.

Nadal has constantly refused to entertain the prospect of chasing down Federer`s 16 Grand Slam titles, a show of modesty which sparked an astonishing outburst from former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe.
"I`m getting a little bit tired of him continuing to downplay his chances," McEnroe told the BBC.

"There is definitely an argument for him not only being the best player at the moment, but the greatest of all time.

"Rafa has won things like the Davis Cup and an Olympic gold medal (in singles) that Roger Federer hasn`t, and he is right on his tail in terms of Grand Slam titles too - so why can`t he just say `look, I`m the best`."

Elsewhere, Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych -- beaten by Nadal in last year`s final -- stormed through to the second round 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 (7/3), 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 and a 2007 semi-finalist, clinched a 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) win over Colombia`s Santiago Giraldo.

Germany`s Rainer Schuettler, who made the last four in 2008, shrugged off his 35 years to defeat Brazilian 30th seed Thomaz Belluci 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-2.
But fellow veteran German Tommy Haas, also a former semi-finalist, was a first round loser, going down to Luxembourg`s Gilles Muller 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3.

American 10th seed Mardy Fish made the second round with a 7-6, (7/3), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 win over Spain`s Marcel Granollers while highly-rated Canadian 31st seed Milos Raonic beat French lucky loser Marc Gicquel 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

However, Halle grasscourt tournament winner Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany went down in four sets to Uzbekistan`s Denis Istomin.

Later Monday, fourth seed Murray, a semi-finalist for the last two years, opens his campaign to break his country`s 75-year wait for a Wimbledon men`s champion when he faces Spanish clay court specialist Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Three-time runner-up Andy Roddick, seeded eight, starts against German qualifier Andreas Beck, while former US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro faces Italy`s Flavio Cipolla.

Bureau Report

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