Roger Federer launched his bid for a record sixth successive Wimbledon title in blistering style with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty yesterday.
The world No. 1 also racked up his 60th consecutive grass court victory, marking his return to his beloved Center Court with a win as comfortable-looking as the 1920s-style cardigan he wore to mark the occasion of the start of this year’s championships.
The top seed had lost both his previous meetings to Hrbaty, but the most recent was in 2004 and the former world No. 12 was down at No. 272 when the draw for Wimbledon was made after undergoing surgery on his right elbow which sidelined him for six months.
Federer raced through the first two sets in just 58 minutes and then reeled off five straight games to lead 5-1 in the third.
The 30-year-old Hrbaty, making his 12th consecutive appearance here, held on to trail 2-5 and then won warm applause from the crowd when he spent the changeover chatting amicably to his opponent on the seat next to the champion.
The gesture did not alter the outcome as Federer completed victory after just 79 minutes on court and he goes on to face Sweden’s Robin Soderling for a place in the third round.
Meanwhile on Court 1, two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams was made to work hard by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia before opening her account with a straight sets victory.
Williams was troubled by Kanepi’s serve before taking the first set 7-5, but her power began to tell as the match wore on and she won the second set 6-3.
The 26-year-old American, who won the title in 2002 and 2003, had looked rusty until she won a break point at 5-5 in the first set against Kanepi, who reached the quarter-finals at this year’s French Open.
That gave Williams a springboard to dominate the second set.
Williams will play Poland’s Ursula Radwanska in the next round.
China’s Zheng Jie produced the first shock of Wimbledon as she sent Slovakian 30th seed Dominika Cibulkova crashing out.
Wildcard Zheng is ranked over 100 places below Cibulkova, but made a mockery of that gap with a superb display to go through 6-4, 6-3.
The 24-year-old, who plays Britain’s Elena Baltacha in the second round, has never been beyond the third round at the All England Club.
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