Wimbledon 2018

Muguruza in bid to savour her defence

Champ holds court against Briton Broady, Nishikori gives Japan consolatory cheer

Spain's Garbine Muguruza hitting a return to Britain's Naomi Broady during their first-round match at The All England Lawn Tennis Club. The defending champion won in straight sets 6-2, 7-5.
Spain's Garbine Muguruza hitting a return to Britain's Naomi Broady during their first-round match at The All England Lawn Tennis Club. The defending champion won in straight sets 6-2, 7-5.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • In the 50 years since tennis welcomed the professionals back into the fold, only five women have retained the Wimbledon title.

All five - Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Venus Williams and Serena Williams - are all-time greats of the game, so the task facing Garbine Muguruza this year is a sizeable one.

The Spaniard opened the defence of her title yesterday with a scratchy 6-2, 7-5 victory over Britain's Naomi Broady, the world No. 138. A wild card into the main draw, Broady performed well on Centre Court, especially in the second set, but Muguruza held on to advance to the second round.

When she won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2016, Muguruza found it hard to deal with the emotions of defending her title the following year. This time, she plans to embrace it.

"(It was) incredible (to walk out as defending champion)," the 24-year-old said. "It's a beautiful court. I'm back, I'm thinking to win and actually enjoy this time more."

The first set was straightforward for Muguruza as she took it in 31 minutes thanks to two breaks, even if she was not at her fluent best, a stiff breeze easing the heat of the sun but making clean ball-striking difficult.


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    1st rd: Radu Albot (Mda) bt Pablo Carreno-Busta (Esp) 3-6 6-0 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1, Bernard Tomic (Aus) bt Hubert Hurkacz (Pol) 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-2), Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Christian Harrison (USA) 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2, Alexander Zverev (Ger) bt James Duckworth (Aus) 7-5 6-2 6-0, Juan Martín del Potro (Arg) bt Peter Gojowczyk (Ger) 6-3 6-4 6-3.


    1st rd: Hsieh Su-wei (Tpe) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) 6-4 4-6 6-3, Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt Alize Cornet (Fra) 7-6 (7-3) 6-1, Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Peng Shuai (Chn) 6-4 7-5, Angelique Kerber (Ger) bt Vera Zvonareva (Rus) 7-5 6-3, Claire Liu (USA) bt Ana Konjuh (Cro) 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.


Broady had chances to make some inroads on the third seed's serve but when pulling the trigger on the forehand, she invariably missed. In the second set, the Briton showed fighting spirit to save break points in her first service game and then coming from 0-40 down at 3-4 to stay on level terms with the crowd behind her.

She saved a match point at 4-5 with an inside-out backhand and held for 5-5. But Muguruza won the last eight points to take her place in round two, where she will take on either Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck or Slovenia's Polona Hercog.

"I knew she had a big serve and big shots and on grass it is always difficult," Muguruza said. "Controlling the emotions is hard, to be back in a Grand Slam is always difficult, so I am really excited the way I am playing."

Japan's Kei Nishikori went into his match against American qualifier Christian Harrison - brother of world No. 59 Ryan - with a heavy heart.

Nishikori, one of the more idolised Japanese athletes, was a football fan on Monday, watching the Samurai Blue take on Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup. He tweeted five sad face emoticons after Japan's heart-wrenching 3-2 defeat, but provided his country with some consolation yesterday.

The world No. 28 overcame a mid-match blip to beat 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, and will next face 2011 quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic in the second round.

Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund also revived some British spirits. Following the withdrawal of two-time champion Andy Murray, they recorded opening-round wins over Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva - 7-5, 7-6 (9-7) - and Australian Alex Bolt (6-2, 6-3, 7-5) respectively.


Day 3: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, 6.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2018, with the headline 'Muguruza in bid to savour her defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe