Nadal, Russell get Wimbledon under way

2011-06-20 11:12

LONDON – Wimbledon was bathed in warm sunshine as Rafa Nadal and Michael Russell, two players from opposite ends of the tennis spectrum, prepared to open proceedings on Centre Court today.

The leafy south west London club’s gates opened for the first day’s action under clear skies although rain was forecast later which could mean Nadal begins his title defence under the Centre Court roof.

The Spaniard, who re-charged his batteries with some golf back home in Majorca after claiming his sixth French Open title to take his career grand slam haul to 10, has not lost at Wimbledon since the 2007 final against Roger Federer.

Russell, a 33-year-old journeyman from Houston, Texas, has only ever managed one win on the lawns and has never claimed a Tour title. He has never beaten a top-10 player.

However, the mystique of the world’s most famous tournament has grown over the decades with extraordinary tales of the unexpected and Nadal will hope his progress through the opening rounds is smooth Andy Murray, who is still waiting for his first major title, has the added burden of trying to end Britain’s 75-year wait for a men’s singles champion at a grand slam.

He will be full of confidence as he follows Nadal on to Centre Court to face Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Murray, winner at Queen’s Club last week, is a potential semi-final opponent for Nadal who prevailed when they met at that stage last year.

Sandwiched in between is last year’s French Open champion Francesca Schiavone from Italy who takes on a familiar name at Wimbledon, Jelena Dokic of Australia.

In 1999 a 16-year-old Dokic caused one of Wimbledon’s greatest upsets when she beat then world number one Martina Hingis in the first round.

Should Russell, who has never won a tour title, come out on top today, however, it would make Dokic’s feat look fairly routine and send shockwaves around the sport.

Also in action are three-times runner-up Andy Roddick against Andreas Beck and fellow American and five-times champion Venus Williams who tackles Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan.

With showers expected throughout the first week, Centre Court’s roof could get its first serious test since it was completed in time for the 2009 championships – since when it has been largely redundant.

The expected 40 000 spectators flocking into the grounds will again enjoy the traditions that make Wimbledon such a highlight in the world sporting calendar.

They will also be dazzled by the All England Club’s ability to move with the times and the 2011 championships will begin with a brand new showcourt.

The players are here, the scene is set, the strawberries are being unwrapped. Let the action begin.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.