Nadal victorious in return

Trying to switch directions while chasing a shot beneath the Royal Box at Wimbledon’s Centre Court, Rafael Nadal lost his footing and took a nasty-looking spill, flinging his racket in the air while he fell.

Spain's Rafael Nadal sits on the court during his match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon

Spain's Rafael Nadal sits on the court during his match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON — Trying to switch directions while chasing a shot beneath the Royal Box at Wimbledon’s Centre Court, Rafael Nadal lost his footing and took a nasty-looking spill, flinging his racket in the air while he fell.

The Spaniard was OK, even if he did land on his back behind the baseline and glanced overhead to make sure his equipment wasn’t going to nail him in the noggin. Nadal towelled off and, four games later, wrapped up a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the first round at the All England Club.

It was merely a coincidence, of course, that Nadal’s third-set tumble Tuesday left him in nearly the same position, and in the same spot, that he found himself the last time he played a match at Wimbledon, almost two full years ago. Except on that occasion, he was dropping to the grass on purpose to celebrate beating Roger Federer in the 2008 final.

Nadal didn’t defend that championship, withdrawing last year because of painful tendinitis in his knees. Now he’s healthy, reinstated at No. 1 in the rankings, once again the reigning French Open champion — and back on what he called “probably the most beautiful and emblematic court in the world.”

Said Nadal: “I’m happy to be here again.”

He’s also happy to be able to scamper around a court as only he can, knowing that his knees won’t let him down.

Another past Wimbledon winner coming off an injury, Maria Sharapova, also played Tuesday, and also won convincingly, eliminating 127th-ranked Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia 6-1, 6-0 in only 54 minutes.

Sharapova had right shoulder surgery in October 2008 and was sidelined for about 10 months, then was hampered by a right elbow injury this season. She’s had to toy with her service motion, in addition to confronting worries about when she would regain the strokes that helped her win Wimbledon at age 17 in 2004, then two other Grand Slam titles.

“You never know until things happen. I mean, I believed that I would be back. Did I really know? I assumed, and I had a lot of belief in myself, and I had a tremendous amount of support from the people around me,” said Sharapova, who won 30 of 37 points on her serve Tuesday. “But you never really know till it happens.”

Joining her in the second round were defending champion Serena Williams, who pounded 15 aces in a 6-0, 6-4 victory over 17-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal to improve to 43-0 in first-round Grand Slam matches; two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who overcame 16 aces by Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan and won 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4; and No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 9 Li Na and No. 10 Flavia Pennetta.

But No. 6 Samantha Stosur, the runner-up at the French Open a little more than two weeks ago, lost to 80th-ranked qualifier Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-4, 6-4. The woman who beat Stosur at Roland Garros, first-time major champion Francesca Schiavone, bowed out of Wimbledon on Monday.

The only other seeded woman who lost Tuesday was No. 25 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

Four seeded men exited, and three are from Spain: No. 8 Fernando Verdasco, No. 19 Nicolas Almagro, and No. 14 Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion. The other was No. 24 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up.

Winners included No. 4 Andy Murray, two-time French Open finalist Robin Soderling, No. 9 David Ferrer, No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and No. 18 Sam Querrey of Santa Monica, Calif. Murray is the only British man or woman still left, making this the first time in tournament history that the hosts have but one representative in the second round.

“It’s not great, is it?” Murray said.

For all of Nadal’s success at the French Open — he is 38-1 there, with five championships in six years — he considers his Wimbledon trophy his most significant accomplishment. Having to pull out of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament in 2009 was part of a tough season that also included his only loss at Roland Garros and, away from the court, his parents’ separation.

“We had many problems last year, with the knees and many things. After Roland Garros, it was a difficult decision not playing here,” said Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and coach. “When you are the (defending) champion, you want to at least come here to play. But that’s life.”

Nadal is seeded second behind six-time Wimbledon champion Federer, who struggled in his first match Monday, coming back to win after dropping the opening two sets. Nadal faced no such dangers against the 189th-ranked Nishikori, who was honoured as the 2008 ATP newcomer of the year after becoming the first Japanese man since 1937 to reach the U.S. Open’s fourth round, but then missed time with a right elbow injury.

“If I hit one easy shot, he’s going to hit winners. So it wasn’t easy for me,” Nishikori said. “I think he was playing really well today.”

If Nishikori is still trying to re-establish himself, Nadal clearly has recovered from his knee issues, going 22-0 on clay this spring.

Now his indefatigable style is once again on display at Wimbledon.

“This year, I worked a lot to be here,” Nadal said. “I’m perfect. Concentrated. Very motivated.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Red Deer says its roundabouts have sharply reduced the number of injury collisions at a pair of busy intersections. Alberta Transportation wants to incorporate five roundabouts into plans to twin Highway 11 from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Highway 11 roundabouts will increase safety based on Red Deer’s experience

Injury collisions sharply reduced at roundabout intersections in city

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

Alberta reported an additional 643 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province now has… Continue reading

About 110 students from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools participated in March for Life rally in Edmonton May 9. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school has COVID-19 case

St. Joseph High School in Red Deer confirmed a positive COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Lacombe High School logo.
Two more COVID-19 cases at Lacombe Composite High School

Lacombe Composite High School confirmed two more positive COVID-19 cases at the… Continue reading

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

There are two confirmed COVID-19 cases at Red Deer College. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Central Albertans were promised a university

Central Albertans were promised a university

FILE - Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron sits for a portrait after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, in this Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, file photo. Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth but went on to break the career home run record in the pre-steroids era, died early Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86. The Atlanta Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. No cause of death was given. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)
Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) passes the ball around Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, speaks during the Olympic Partnership kick off event at the Sobey's office in Mississauga, Ont. on Monday, October 7, 2019. Shoemaker says the IOC remains committed to staging the Summer Games in Tokyo this summer.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley lifts the Voyageurs Cup after beating Vancouver Whitecaps 5-2 to win the Canadian Championship Final in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Canada's Penny Oleksiak reacts after her heat of the women's 50m butterfly at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Friday, July 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lee Jin-man
Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Ontario skip Glenn Howard watches a rock as they play Newfoundland and Labrador in draw 15 action at the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John's on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Curling Canada has decided to use the national ranking system as its selection criteria for the final wild-card berths at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian rankings to be used to determine final wild-card spots at Scotties and Brier

Canadian rankings to be used to determine final wild-card spots at Scotties and Brier

Most Read