Wednesday 13 December 2017

Rafael Nadal opens his Wimbledon campaign with rollercoaster first set against Brazilian opponent

RAFAEL Nadal kicked off his Wimbledon campaign with a rollercoaster first set against the dangerous Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.

The second-seeded Spaniard, a title favourite for many and seeking an 11th grand slam, slumped four games behind with two early breaks of serve before hitting back with two of his own and winning on a tie-break.

He will not have expected to have worked so hard for his first set of the tournament, though, with his 80th-ranked opponent revealing a flashing forehand that had the 26-year-old in all sorts of trouble at one stage.

He displayed a more-than-handy serve too, something that helped him save a first-game break point before, in the next game when break point down himself, Nadal played a poor drop shot which was picked off with ease.

A routine hold followed before a memorable fourth game which, after looking like Nadal's when he had ball in hand at 40-30, ended as a double break after Bellucci unleashed three successive fizzing forehands.

At 4-0 down and with an absent first serve, an opening-set whitewash looked possible for Nadal until he turned things around, breaking twice in succession himself as an increase in his aggression on the forehand wing twice forced Bellucci to net.

Serve then held through to a tie-break which Nadal gratefully took 7/0, earning a first-point mini-break which was backed up by two more.

Meanwhile, BRITISH hopes took another dip today as Laura Robson became the latest homegrown talent to bow out of Wimbledon.

The 18-year-old was left "really disappointed" after former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone came from one set down to beat her 2-6 6-4 6-4.

Robson, who earned a standing ovation when she left Court Two, becomes the latest Brit to go out of the tournament, a situation which will only serve to ramp up the pressure on Andy Murray.

The British number one faces former world number three Nikolay Davydenko on Centre Court today as he begins his bid to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray mania hit SW19 as fans queued to get their chance to see the 25-year-old try to take the title.

After her match Robson - who looked close to tears at times - said: "I'm really disappointed actually. I thought I was in control of it, and then just made a few mistakes and let her get back into the match."

The teenager admitted a break in the match while Schiavone went off court for treatment on an injury had not helped her efforts.

"In general I think she took a lot of time between points, and that gave me more time to think about what I was doing. I think that's really tough," she said.

But asked if the Italian's grunting put her off, she replied: "I was grunting as well. Doesn't bother me at all."

Robson follows fellow Britons Josh Goodall and Oli Golding, who were both knocked out of the tournament yesterday.

And 22-year-old Naomi Broady left the grand slam stage today after losing 6-4 7-6 (7/4) to Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

Robson said she will now be rooting for compatriot Heather Watson who celebrated her first Wimbledon win last night, defeating Czech world number 52 Iveta Benesova 6-2 6-1 on Centre Court.

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