Federer, Serena breeze through Wimbledon furnace
London (AFP) –
Eight-time champion Roger Federer and seven-time winner Serena Williams shrugged off 30-degree heat to breeze into the Wimbledon second round Monday.
Federer, the defending champion and seeking a 21st major, marked the start of his 20th successive Wimbledon with a new look and a comfortable 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.
Williams, like Federer, 36-years-old but chasing a 24th Slam title, enjoyed a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 victory over Holland's Arantxa Rus.
It was the American's first match at the All England Club since lifting the 2016 title.
She missed the 2017 edition as she prepared for the birth of her first child.
Top seed Federer marched out on Centre Court dressed for the first time in gear designed by Japanese giant Uniqlo in a deal reported to be worth $300 million after a two-decade association with Nike.
But everything else was familiar for the Swiss star who cruised past world number 57 Lajovic in just 79 minutes.
It was the second successive year that Federer had knocked out the Serb at Wimbledon.
"I'm very happy, I felt good from the start too which was nice and that was not the case last year against him. I remember I struggled early on a lot," said Federer.
After just 20 minutes to complete the first set, Federer went on to fire 35 winners past Lajovic, breaking serve five times, setting up a second round encounter against either Lukas Lacko of Slovakia or French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi.
Out on Court One, Serena, seeded 25 this year despite a ranking of 181, had too much power for Rus, the world 107 who made the third round in 2012 but failed to get out of qualifying on her last three visits.
Williams, looking to move within one title of Martina Navratilova's Open era record of nine Wimbledon titles, fired 23 winners past Rus and broke serve four times.
Victory was sealed on a fifth match point.
She next faces either Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova or Czech wild card Tereza Smitkova.
"I don't know if I'm relieved, more motivated, but I am happy to get through that," said Williams, whose return to Slam tennis after pregnancy at Roland Garros last month ended in a fourth round injury withdrawal.
"It's a great feeling to be back, it's been a couple of years since I played on grass, so it is difficult trying to find the rhythm."
US Open champion and fourth seed Sloane Stephens became the tournament's first big name casualty when she slumped to a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Croatia's world 55 Donna Vekic.
For Stephens, fresh from making the French Open final last month, it was her second successive first round loss at the tournament.
Vekic, who sealed the upset on her fourth match point, faces Sweden's Rebecca Peterson in the second round.
"I finally got through a match like that," Vekic told the WTA after her first win over a top five player.
"The last couple of times I played against top players I was playing good but I would still lose. My team always said it's going to come and it did today."
Stephens shrugged off the loss.
"There isn't too much I can do -- I'm not going to go and cry. Life goes on," she said.
Third seed and 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic enjoyed a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.
Cilic, who won the Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen's Club last month, fired 21 aces and 44 winners past his 259th-ranked opponent.
He will face Guido Pella of Argentina for a place in the last 32.
Second seed Caroline Wozniacki, who has never got to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, built on her Eastbourne title at the weekend with a 59-minute, 6-0, 6-3 win over Varvara Lepchenko.
Venus Williams, a five-time champion and runner-up last year, made the next round with a 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-1 win against Johanna Larsson of Sweden.
Serena's fellow tennis-playing mother, Victoria Azarenka, a former world number one and two-time semi-finalist, defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Ivo Karlovic, 39 and the oldest man in the draw, made the second round by seeing off Mikhail Youzhny, just three years younger, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
But Karlovic's Croatian compatriot Borna Coric, who defeated Federer for the Halle title last week, was a first round loser against Russia's Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2.
© 2018 AFP