I actually don’t think Frances Tiafoe beating Stefanos was as big a surprise as everyone is making out. I had said coming into the event that Tiafoe had won one of the Challengers in Nottingham and Stefanos had not only not played since the French but he had also recently lost his nan. It looked a tricky match at best for the French Open runner-up. This was a good performance from Frances to compound his matters. A very aggressive game plan paid dividends for the American and there is much work needed from Stefanos to work on the backhand return of serve. Tiafoe actually mentioned how the grass-courts makes him play the right way as he has to take the game to his opponents. Vasek Pospisil is next for him. There were a few other losses for seeds, Jannik Sinner (to Marton Fucsovics), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (to Denis Kudla) and Reilly Opelka (to Dominik Koepfer).
Andy Murray did get a little tight midmatch against the 28th Seed, Nikoloz Basilashvili, from two sets up and 5-0 in the third the Brit lost seven straight games to drop the third. I started having visions of what the reaction would have been like, were he to lose this from that position. It wasn’t really worth thinking about with how the media are here. A much-needed toilet break was taken and he came back in the zone for the fourth set and got through some sticky moments. Muzza was quite emotional in his oncourt interview, he managed to keep it together but you could see it meant a lot to him, good on him.
Djokovic did drop the opening set against Jack Draper before putting in a very solid performance behind his serve. 25 aces for the Serb. I think Draper can be very happy with this effort though, showing some good aggressive passages in the opening set before the World Number One really knuckled down. I think he would have taken winning a set prematch. I wanted him to give a good account of himself and he did that. Kevin Anderson next for Nole, the South African is trying to find some form after recent injuries. Elsewhere there were wins for Karen Khachanov, Roberto Bautista Agut and Andrey Rublev. All had hard-fought victories over Mackenzie McDonald, John Millman and Federico Delbonis respectively in four sets. Liam Broady took out former French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato in a comfortable straight sets, bagelling him in the third. Jay Clarke’s first round has been held overnight and trails Egor Gerasimov by two sets to one on a rain strewn day at SW19. Only half the matches were completed in yesterdays order of play and a load were cancelled to today.
Petra Kvitova was given a rough draw against Sloane Stephens and fell at the first hurdle. Sloane really is starting to look the part again slowly, I think by the time the US Open comes around she will be right in the mix. The movement was superb. Petra did have her thigh taped but when Stephens is playing like this she will always be a tough matchup for the former Champion. Stephens will face fellow American Kristie Ahn in the second round. Ahn somehow managed to come through against Heather Watson, who served for it and had a match point in the decider. It was all looking good for the British Number two after taking the first set 6/2 but she couldn’t get over the line and let this one slip away from her. Ahn was struggling with her movement but then again that doesn’t always make things as easy as they look for the opponent.
The other Brits that played had mixed results. Katie Swan lost to Madison Keys and Jodie Burrage lost to Lauren Davis but there was a win again at Wimbledon for Katie Boulter, this time against Danielle Lao. I always mention how she was on the way up in 2018/2019 before the back injury, she had broken into the top 100 and I want to see her achieve that and more again. I have always had a bit of a soft spot for the Leicester born 24-year-old. She will play Sabalenka next, who she played to and lost to in the second round at the Aussie Open in 2019. There is no pressure here and as she says she can “have a swing on her service games. I’ve got nothing to lose and I’m just going to enjoy the moment.”
Most of the seeds that took to the court prevailed in the Ladies event yesterday. Aryna Sabalenka will have been pleased her match against qualifier Monica Niculescu went under the roof on court one. The conditions suiting Sabalenka more like this, Niculescu try as she might with her bag of tricks and unorthodox shots couldn’t put her under enough pressure in the faster conditions. Iga Swiatek beat Su-Wei Hsieh in what looked like a very tricky match considering the Pole lack of experience on grass. Elena Rybakina was far too strong for Kristina Mladenovic. Sofia Kenin and Garbine Muguruza like all of the above came through in straight sets. Muguruza dropping her only game of the match when serving for it at 6/0 5/0 against Fiona Ferro.
Onto day two.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).