- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

WIMBLEDON, England — French Open winner Justine Henin-Hardenne ran out of comebacks yesterday and lost in the first round at Wimbledon.

The Belgian became the first Roland Garros women’s champion since 1962 to lose her opening match at Wimbledon when she was beaten by Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, 7-6 (8), 2-6, 7-5.

Seeded seventh, Henin-Hardenne won the second set to pull even, erased a 4-2 deficit in the final set to reach 4-all, then overcame two match points in the 10th game for 5-all. But she double-faulted twice in the final game, including on the last point when her weary serve clipped the net cord.

Two-time champion Serena Williams, playing her first match since May11, won the final five games to beat fellow American Angela Haynes 6-7 (12), 6-4, 6-2.

The men’s French Open champion, 19-year-old Rafael Nadal, wore his clamdigger trousers on Centre Court and beat American Vince Spadea 6-4, 6-3, 6-0.

Henin-Hardenne took two weeks off between tournaments to rest a lingering hamstring injury and said she felt rusty as a result. The match was her first on grass in two years, and she acknowledged that nerves were a problem at times.

“Playing on clay and then coming here, it’s so different,” she said. “You change everything. It’s not in a few days you get used to it.”

Daniilidou, ranked 76th, came to Wimbledon with a 7-11 record this year but has enjoyed some of her best results on grass and played with poise down the stretch.

“Justine is a great player, but everyone is a little shaky at times during a match,” Daniilidou said. “I think today I was a little bit better with that.”

Maria Sharapova opened her bid for a second consecutive Wimbledon title by defeating Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-2, 6-2. Sharapova displayed her familiar grass-court flair and unveiled shoes trimmed with 18-karat gold.

“I just need some wings, and I feel like I can fly,” she said. “They’re great shoes. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments.”

Her game warranted acclaim, too. She hit six aces, erased the only break point she faced and belted winners into both corners from the baseline.

Sharapova’s next opponent will be 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva, who beat Amanda Janes 7-5, 6-7 (6), 7-5. Karatantcheva upset Venus Williams in the third round at the French Open.

Ivo Karlovic, at 6-foot-10 the tallest player in tennis, tied an ATP Tour record with 51 aces but lost a 4-hour, 17-minute marathon to lucky loser Daniele Bracciali, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (8), 3-6, 7-6 (5), 12-10.

Karlovic lost serve just once — in the next-to-last game. The Croatian upset defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in the first round in 2003 and was considered a title threat.

Instead, Bracciali advanced to the second round against No.2-seeded Andy Roddick, who beat Jiri Vanek 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Roddick, the runner-up to Roger Federer last year, hit 14 aces and won in 82 minutes.

Englishman Tim Henman, seeded sixth, gave the partisan Centre Court crowd a thrill by rallying past Jarkko Nieminen 3-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Scottish 18-year-old Andrew Murray, the latest candidate for a British breakthrough at Wimbledon, beat qualifier George Bastl 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Murray, a wild card and the U.S. Open juniors champion last year, won in his Grand Slam debut.

“I wasn’t really expecting to win — he’s much better than me,” Murray said. “I still haven’t really done anything. Everybody is making it out as if I’ve won Wimbledon, and I think it’s a little bit over the top.”

Two-time champion Venus Williams, seeded 14th, won five consecutive games during one stretch and beat Eva Birnerova 6-2, 6-4.

Serena Williams, coming back from an ankle injury, averted an upset in the day’s final match on Court2, known as the graveyard of champions. She struggled early, grimacing and screaming at herself in reaction to mistakes, and failed to convert four set points in the tense 65-minute first set.

Williams’ mood was calmer and her strokes steadier as she rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the final set.

Henin-Hardenne entered the tournament as the oddsmakers’ co-favorite, along with Sharapova. But the four-time Grand Slam champion again came up short in the only major event she has yet to win.

She double-faulted 11 times, committed 48 unforced errors and became the first French Open women’s champion to lose her opening match at Wimbledon since Margaret Smith was beaten by Billie Jean King 43 years ago.

“It’s pretty hard,” Henin-Hardenne said. “But it’s tennis. It’s life. You have to keep going.”

The last Roland Garros men’s champion to lose his opening match at Wimbledon was Gustavo Kuerten in 1997.

On a sunny afternoon, with temperatures in the low 80s, Sharapova played the first match on Centre Court and walked onto the lawn with a smile.

“It’s so amazing,” she said. “I usually don’t smile when I go out on the court. But the people are clapping and I was taking it all in, and I remember last year. This was where magic happened, so it was really, really good to feel that again.”

Sharapova was done in 58 minutes. She raced to a 3-0 lead in each set and won five consecutive games during one stretch.

Roddick, hitting serves at up to 141 mph, faced just one break point against Vanek and totaled 32 winners to just 12 unforced errors. It was Vanek’s 11th consecutive first-round exit in a major tournament.

The only drama in the match came in the tiebreaker, when a scrambling exchange sent Vanek racing forward. As he tried to brake, he dumped his shot into the net, then went tumbling over it, landing on his back on Roddick’s side of the court.

Roddick also won the next point to take the set.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide