/ Tennis

Rafael Nadal recovers from shaky start to secure Wimbledon progression

Updated: Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012 20:40 | Comments

Rafael Nadal recovered from a sluggish start to easily account for Thomaz Bellucci
Rafael Nadal recovered from a sluggish start to easily account for Thomaz Bellucci

Second seed Rafael Nadal took his time to get going but got there in the end as he saw off Thomaz Bellucci in his opening match at this year's Wimbledon.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, fresh from winning a record seventh French Open title, was rocked on his heels by the free-hitting Brazilian early on, falling 4-0 down in the first set before taking it to a tie-break which he won 7/0.

He found the going easier in the second having stifled Bellucci's flamboyance and took it 6-2 before seeing out the match 6-3, recovering from losing his serve in the process.

Scotland's Andy Murray made a ruthless start to his seventh Wimbledon title bid by crushing Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-1 6-1 6-4.

The fourth seed, semi-finalist for the past three years, needed one hour 35 minutes to see off the former world number three.

Murray raced through the first two sets in 55 minutes and although Davydenko improved in the third, Murray's powerful serve and metronomical groundstrokes were simply too good for the 31-year-old Davydenko.

Murray, bidding to become the first British man to win Wimbledon for 76 years, sealed victory on his third match point when his opponent sent a backhand return long and he will play Croatian Ivo Karlovic or Israeli Dudi Sela in the second round.

Former champion Lleyton Hewitt was unable to roll back the years as he was beaten in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-4, by fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Hewitt, the 2002 winner, has struggled increasingly with injuries over the past few years but returned to the circuit at the French Open after more than three months off and newly positive following a radical toe operation.

However, the Australian is short of matches having not won since a third-round victory over rising star Milos Raonic at the Australian Open.

Tsonga, who beat Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals here last year, was a hugely tough first-round opponent for Hewitt and in the end the 31-year-old was overpowered.

Hewitt, who is now ranked 202nd in the world and the recipient of a wild card here, had his chances, particularly in the second set, when he brought up three break points in the sixth game only for Tsonga to send down three massive serves.

A poor game from Hewitt at 4-4 then gave Tsonga the crucial advantage, although the Frenchman still needed to recover from 0-40 in the next game to take the set.

The decider was more straightforward, with Tsonga, a potential quarter-final opponent for Rafael Nadal, breaking serve for the only time in the seventh game and then clinching victory when Hewitt netted a backhand.

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