WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Returning to the court where she won her first Grand Slam championship a year ago, Petra Kvitova overcame a shaky start and a late rain delay yesterday to open her Wimbledon title defence with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Akgul Amanmuradova.
Four-time champion Serena Williams, meanwhile, returned to the same Court 2 where big sister Venus was upset a day earlier and restored family pride by beating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4.
Following Kvitova on Centre Court was two-time champion Rafael Nadal, and he found himself in an early hole just as she had. Nadal was down 4-0 in the opening set, but roared back to beat Brazilian left-hander Thomaz Bellucci, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3. The Spaniard closed the match with an ace down the middle, his sixth of the day.
Serena Williams ground out a shriek-filled win over the 62nd-ranked Zahlavova Strycova, a day after five-time champion Venus lost her first-round match on the same court in straight sets to Elena Vesnina.
It was clear how much the match meant to the animated Serena, who screamed loudly in frustration after losing points and shouted "Come on!" and pumped her fist after winning big points.
Also advancing to the second round in straight sets was No 2 Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion who beat American Irina Falconi, 6-1, 6-4. Azarenka reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year before losing to Kvitova.
In men's play, fourth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain swept to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 win in gloomy conditions on Centre Court over Nikolay Davydenko, a former No 3-ranked player from Russia who has dropped to No 47 and lost in the first round for the second year in a row.
Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took apart 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The Frenchman, who beat six-time champion Roger Federer last year to reach the semi-finals, broke the Australian once in each set and never lost serve.
Playing his first match since having a medical procedure on his heart, 10th-seeded Mardy Fish of the United States served 24 aces and beat Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo of Spain, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (1), to reach the second round.
Jarkko Nieminen ousted 14th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
In early women's play, No 12 Vera Zvonareva completed a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Germany's Mona Barthel in a match that had been suspended by darkness at one set apiece on Monday.
Francesca Schiavone, the 24th-seeded Italian, came from behind to overcome 18-year-old British wild card Laura Robson, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
In a men's match between two rising stars, 21-year-old Belgian wild card David Goffin — who reached the fourth round of the French Open and took a set off Federer — rallied from a set down against 19-year-old Bernard Tomic to beat the 20th-seeded Australian, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.