LONDON • Defending champion Roger Federer 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 yesterday.
The top seed marched out onto Centre Court dressed for the first time in gear designed by Japanese giant Uniqlo after a two-decade association with Nike. But everything else was familiar for the eight-time Wimbledon champion as the Swiss cruised past world No. 57 Lajovic in just 79 minutes.
It was the second successive year that Federer had knocked out the Serb at the All England Club.
"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 a lot early on," said the 36-year-old, who hardly broke sweat in the 30 deg C hothouse.
"It was a really nice feeling. I always got the early break in each set and was able to bring it home."
After taking just 20 minutes to complete the first set, Federer fired 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.
ASSERTING HIS DOMINANCE
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 a lot early on.
ROGER FEDERER, top seed and defending champion, on his straight-sets win against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.
During last month's grass-court event in Halle, Germany, Federer confirmed his deal with Nike had expired in March but he kept his arrangement with Uniqlo firmly under wraps until yesterday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was still wearing Nike footwear, however, as Uniqlo does not manufacture shoes.
The 10-year deal with Uniqlo is reported to be worth US$300 million (S$411 million). According to ESPN, the contract includes an unprecedented clause that says Federer, whose on-court earnings are US$116.6 million, will still be paid if he stops playing.
He was joined in the second round by the man he defeated in last year's final, Marin Cilic.
Third seed Cilic enjoyed a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.
The Croat, 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 either Australian qualifier Jason Kubler or Guido Pella of Argentina for a place in the third round.
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 No. 55 Donna Vekic.
DAY 1 SELECTED RESULTS
Jan-Lennard Struff (Ger) bt Leonardo Mayer (Arg) 3-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) 6-1, Sam Querrey (USA) bt Jordan Thompson (Aus) 6-2 6-4 6-3, Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) bt Joao Sousa (Por) 6-3 6-3 5-7 1-6 6-4, Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) bt Evgeny Donskoy (Rus) 6-2 6-4 7-5, Gilles Muller (Lux) bt Michael Mmoh (USA) 7-5 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-1, Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn) 6-1 6-4 6-4, Nicolas Jarry (Chi) bt Filip Krajinovic (Srb) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, Lucas Pouille (Fra) bt Denis Kudla (USA) 6-3 6-3 2-6 6-3, Dennis Novak (Aut) bt Peter Polansky (Can) 6-2 6-3 7-6 (9-7).
Karolina Pliskova (Cze, right) bt Harriet Dart (Gbr) 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 6-1, Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, Alexandra Dulgheru (Rom) bt Kristyna Pliskova (Cze) 6-4 1-6 6-2, Venus Williams (USA) bt Johanna Larsson (Swe) 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-1, Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) bt Mona Barthel (Ger) 7-5 6-4, Donna Vekic (Cro) bt Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-1 6-3, Sorana Cirstea (Rom) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk) 7-5 6-3, Evgeniya Rodina (Rus) bt Antonia Lottner (Ger) 3-6 7-5 6-4, Luksika Kumkhum (Tha) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 4-6 6-2 6-3, Madison Keys (USA) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (Aus) 6-4 6-2, Camila Giorgi (Ita) bt Anastasija Sevastova (Lat) 6-1 2-6 6-4.
For the American, 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 Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova or Sweden's Rebecca Peterson in the second round.
Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, seeking a maiden Grand Slam title, survived a scare to defeat Britain's Harriet Dart 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 6-1. However, last year's semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova lost 7-5, 6-3 to Sorana Cirstea.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Day 2: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, 6.30pm