Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Kvitova struggles, but wins through

SURVIVOR:The reigning champion started slowly, but she fought back from 3-0 down to progress, while Japan’s Kei Nishikori won on his comeback from injury

Agencies, LONDON

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic returns to Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova in their Wimbledon women’s singles match in London yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Defending champion Petra Kvitova reached the second round at Wimbledon yesterday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, but only after surviving an early struggle.

The Czech, who became the first woman born in the 1990s to win a major when she beat Maria Sharapova in last year’s final, fought back from 3-0 and 4-1 down in the first set, before seeing off Amanmuradova, who has now lost all her five first-round appearances at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Once Kvitova had reeled off seven successive games to take the first set and lead 2-0 in the second, the 22-year-old was comfortably in control, managing to shrug off a brief rain delay at 40-40 and 5-3 in the second set.

“It’s unbelievable to come back as defending champion,” said Kvitova, who started her title-winning campaign out on Court 15 last year. “I was nervous at the start. On grass, you never know what to expect from me.”

In the men’s singles, Japan’s Kei Nishikori earned his first ever win at Wimbledon as the 19th seed marked his return from injury with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.

Nishikori had never been past the opening round in his three previous visits, losing to former champions Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt on his last two appearances, but he ended that barren run in his first match since April.

The 22-year-old is scheduled to face Andrey Kuznetsov or Florent Serra in the second round.

Nishikori made history earlier this year when he became the first Japanese man to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals in 80 years after a surprise five-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but his progress suffered a setback when he was hit by a stomach injury against Fernando Verdasco in Barcelona that forced him to miss the rest of the clay-court campaign, including the French Open.

Mardy Fish also made a winning return in his first match following a procedure to address a frightening heart scare.

The world No. 12 beat Spain’s Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 7-6 (7/1) and looked comfortable moving around the court.

It was his first tournament appearance since April, when, as top seed, he fell at the first hurdle in Houston, Texas.

He had a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation in Los Angeles on May 23 to correct faulty wiring in his heart.

Fish said the arrhythmia had made it hard for him to sleep and his heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest.

Fish is the top American left in the draw after world No. 10 John Isner was knocked out on Monday.

No such luck for Bernard Tomic, though, as the Australian teenager’s slump continued with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 defeat against Belgian wild-card David Goffin.

Tomic, the 20th seed, arrived at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, where he was a quarter-finalist last year, in the midst of a woeful run which has seen him fail to get past the second round in 11 of his past 12 tournaments.

That dispiriting sequence included withdrawing from the Wimbledon warm-up in Halle, Germany, with a stomach virus, then losing in the first round at Eastbourne last week.

On Monday, despite developing a fondness for the grass at Wimbledon, Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun crashed out in the first round.

In 2010, Lu made a stunning run to the quarter-finals and last year he reached the third round. Coming off some good results in warm-up tournaments on grass, including a quarter-final appearance at the Aegon Championships in London two weeks ago, Lu anticipated another strong showing at the year’s only grass-court major, although that enthusiasm was tempered by a draw that would have pitted him against Djokovic in the second round, but he had hoped to at least get a shot at the Serb.

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