Carlos Alcaraz launches Wimbledon bid in style, Elena Rybakina survives scare

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against France's Jeremy Chardy after their men's singles tennis match on the second day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships on Tuesday

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning against France's Jeremy Chardy after their men's singles tennis match on the second day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships on Tuesday. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Published Jul 4, 2023


London — Top seed Carlos Alcaraz made a flying start to his Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday as defending women's champion Elena Rybakina recovered from a set down to reach the second round.

On a soggy day at the All England Club, most of the action took place on the covered Court One and Centre Court, where the retired Roger Federer was the main attraction.

Tennis's new golden boy Alcaraz raced through the first set against French veteran Jeremy Chardy in just 22 minutes before breaking twice in the second set.

Chardy, who had previously announced that Wimbledon would be the final tournament of his career, drew first blood in the third set to lead 4-2 but Alcaraz hit back strongly, sealing a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 win with an ace.

"I like to play battles and I am really happy to have played a great level, both of us, in the third set," said the superstar Spaniard.

"I am really happy to get through this first round."

The US Open champion is seen as one of the few credible threats to Novak Djokovic, who is targeting an eighth Wimbledon crown to equal Federer's men's record.

Wimbledon's Centre Court paid tribute to the Swiss great before the start of play as he returned to the scene of his some of his greatest triumphs.

The crowd gave Federer, who retired in September, a prolonged standing ovation interspersed with cheers as he entered the royal box, which threatened to upstage the first match of the championship for Rybakina.

The Kazakh third seed was caught cold in the opening set, double-faulting on her first point on the way to losing her first service game to unseeded American Shelby Rogers but she rallied strongly to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

"It was really tough for me today," said Rybakina. "I was pretty nervous, and I can't even hide it.

"The double fault said it all at the beginning of the match. I'm really pleased to get to another round."

Matches cancelled

Later on Tuesday, two-time champion Andy Murray, who plays with a metal hip, takes on fellow British player Ryan Peniston, 10 years after his career-defining first title win at Wimbledon.

Despite winning two events on the second-tier Challenger Tour last month, the 36-year-old missed out on a seeding for Wimbledon and has not been beyond the third round of a Grand Slam since 2017.

But the 40th-ranked Murray still believes he has what it takes.

"I do believe I'm one of the best grass-court players in the world, and I'm physically feeling really good," he said. "I prepared well, so there's no reason why I can't have a good tournament."

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, last year's beaten finalist, is facing Poland's Magdalena Frech.

Sixth seed Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam women's singles final, said she wanted to learn from her run at the All England Club last year.

As a result of the wet weather, 28 matches were cancelled by mid-afternoon including those featuring third seed Daniil Medvedev and 19th seed Alexander Zverev.

Women's number one Iga Swiatek sailed into the second round on Monday but seventh seed Coco Gauff was shocked by US qualifier Sofia Kenin.

Wimbledon chiefs have downplayed concerns over dampness on Centre Court despite a long delay during Djokovic's first-round match against Pedro Cachin on the opening day of the championships.

Operations director Michelle Dite said there was more moisture in the grass than expected but organisers were not planning to do anything different on Tuesday.

"There was nothing strange," she said. "It was a set of circumstances with the environmental control in the bowl. There is nothing that's broken. There is nothing that means we're not confident in playing today."


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