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Federer opens title defense with win in 68 minutes

By Stephen Wilson

AP Sports Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:33 a.m. HST, Jun 24, 2013


LONDON » Ten years after his first Wimbledon championship, Roger Federer began his bid for a record eighth title at the All England Club today with the same dominance that has defined his grass-court greatness.

Opening the tournament on Centre Court as defending champion, Federer looked right as home as he dismantled Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 in just 68 minutes.

This was a grass-court clinic from Federer, who had 32 winners, seven aces and just six unforced errors. He won 90 percent of the points when he put his first serve in.

When his serve is clicking, Federer usually is unbeatable. On this day, he won 15 of his first service points and 24 out of the first 25.

Earlier, Wimbledon produced an upset in the women's draw when Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig defeated fifth-seeded Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2.

Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka overcame a right knee injury after a scary fall, beating Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal 6-1, 6-2.

Azarenka screamed in pain after slipping and falling at the baseline in the second game of the second set. She sobbed on court and received medical treatment.

Playing the rest of the match with a heavy wrap on her right knee, Azarenka limped noticeably but managed to win comfortably against Koehler, making her Wimbledon debut.

Last year, Federer equaled Pete Sampras and William Renshaw with seven Wimbledon titles. He is now contending to become the first man to win the tournament eight times, which would bring his total of Grand Slam titles to 18.

In keeping with tradition, Federer had the honor of playing the first match on the sport's biggest stage as the reigning men's champion. This was the seventh time he strode out first on Centre Court.

"It's slightly different," he said. "Nine years ago when I came out the first time, it was the most special thing in the world. It still feels amazing. It was an absolute pleasure playing on Centre Court."

Federer came out wearing a white collared jacket with orange trim, then quickly got down to business. He never faced a break point and broke six times.

Federer has a habit of making things look easy. And so it was in the opening game when, stranded at the net, he reached behind him for a reflex forehand volley that landed in for a winner. In the third set, Federer lifted a perfect backhand lob over the 6-foot-6 Hanescu for a break and a 5-0 lead.

It didn't take long for Wimbledon to produce its first upset.

Puig slugged 38 winners in overwhelming Errani in the first match on Court 18. The 19-year-old Puig, playing her first grass-court tournament as a pro, completely outplayed the Italian veteran with her hard-hitting baseline game.

Errani was runner-up at last year's French Open and had reached at least the semifinals of three of the last five Grand Slams. But on the slick grass at the All England club today, she had only 13 winners and was broken four times.

Puig squandered five match points before hitting a forehand winner past Errani to close out the match. The Puerto Rican dropped her racket to the turf and covered her face in her hands.

Errani withdrew from last week's grass-court warmup at Eastbourne with a leg injury, but showed no signs of any physical problems during the match.

Asked what went wrong, Errani said "a mix of everything."

"Always tough for me to play here on grass and she played very good," Errani said. "She served very good, did not make many mistakes and hit the ball strong. My big problem here is that I can't move how I want."

It's the third time a top-5 women's seeded player has lost in the first round at Wimbledon since 2001. The others were Martina Hingis in 2000 and Francesca Schiavone in 2010.

The defeat marked another humbling Wimbledon exit for Errani.

Last year, the Italian went an entire set without winning a point in losing 6-0, 6-4 in the third round to Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan. Shvedova was the first player in a Grand Slam to achieve a so-called "golden set" by winning 24 straight points.

Former top-ranked Ana Ivanovic of Serbia advanced to the second round with a 7-6 (1), 6-0 win over qualifier Virginie Razzano of France.

The 12th-seeded Ivanovic, a semifinalist here in 2007, swept through the second set in 22 minutes, finishing the match with her sixth ace.

The weather was cloudy but dry for the beginning of the two-week championships.

Also scheduled on Centre Court were former women's champion Maria Sharapova, facing Kristina Mladenovic of France, and No. 2-seeded Andy Murray, playing Benjamin Becker of Germany.

Murray, who lost to Federer in last year's final, beat the Swiss star a month later for the Olympic gold medal and won his first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open. He is bidding again to become the first British player to win the men's Wimbledon trophy since Fred Perry in 1936.

Two-time champion Rafael Nadal, seeded No. 5 this year, was paired against Steve Darcis of Belgium on Court No. 1. Nadal is coming off his eighth victory at the French Open.

Defending women's champion and five-time winner Serena Williams plays Tuesday against Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.






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