Nadal survives fright on parade of champions

Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:09pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova led a parade of former champions into the Wimbledon second round on Tuesday after Marion Bartoli briefly lit up Centre Court without swinging her racket.

An order of play overloaded with A-listers began with a tearful Bartoli milking a standing ovation from a packed Centre Court as she returned to the scene of her triumph last year.

Having retired a few weeks after her fairytale run at Wimbledon the Frenchwoman no longer has to contend with the stress and strain of the tour but for twice former champion Nadal and 2004 winner Sharapova, there is no respite.

Just 16 days after claiming an unprecedented ninth French Open crown, Nadal was forced to fend off big-hitting Slovakian Martin Klizan in a ferocious Centre Court duel.

Wary of his hopes withering early again after winning only one match in his previous two visits to the grasscourt citadel, Nadal looked in peril as he lost the first set before catching fire to claim his 700th main tour win with a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory.

Russian fifth seed Sharapova, like Nadal, is also attempting to complete a daunting Roland Garros-Wimbledon double but unlike the Spaniard was able to conserve energy for the battles ahead with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of British wildcard Samantha Murray.

As he often does, seven-times champion Roger Federer, relegated to Court One for the day, stole the show with a dazzling 6-1 6-1 6-3 defeat of Italian journeyman Paolo Lorenzi.

Not to be outdone, world No.1 Serena Williams, who is tied with Federer on 17 grand slams, began her quest for a sixth Wimbledon crown with a 6-1 6-2 defeat of fellow American Anna Tatishvili.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after defeating Martin Klizan of Slovakia in their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett