Wimbledon 2011: Roger Federer Cruises Through First-Round Match

James WatersonContributor IJune 21, 2011

Tennis Now
Tennis NowJulian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer began his bid for a record-tying seven Wimbledon titles by defeating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-2 Tuesday.

Federer, the third seed, and Kukushkin served well in the first set, with neither man getting an opportunity to break serve.

In fact, the six-time Wimbledon champion lost two points—including one double fault—in the first set, compared to Kukushkin’s 10.

Both players were less stingy on serve in the second set. Federer lost six points to Kukushkin’s 13, but that was enough for 16-time Grand Slam champion to earn a crucial break of serve.

Federer, who is known for his ability as a front runner, picked up his game in the third set. In the first two sets, he had a 68 percent first-serve percentage, but he increased that to 81 percent in the final set.

He also lost only four points on his serve and won 52 percent of his opponent’s service points.

For the match, Federer had 12 aces and 53 winners to 23 unforced errors, indicating that he played an aggressive but controlled match.

In the second round, Federer will play either 55th-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France, or 181st-ranked Conor Niland of Ireland.

Meanwhile, 21st-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain survived a five-set thriller against former World No. 8 Radek Stepanek, winning 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6), 9-7.

Verdasco started poorly, struggling to win points on his second serve in the first two sets, and hitting an inconsistent 24 unforced errors to 23 winners.

As the match wore on, the Spaniard played better. Yet he still faced a match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker, which he saved with a down the line forehand passing shot.

The fifth set could have gone either way, as both men had chances to earn the crucial break of serve.

Yet it was Verdasco, who played more aggressively late in the match, who earned the victory.

Verdasco faces Robin Haase of the Netherlands in the second round. This will be their first career meeting.

In a battle of the Croatians, Ivan Ljubicic, a former top 10 player, defeated 27th-seeded Marin Cilic 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Xavier Malisse of Belgium dismissed Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, Bernard Tomic upset Nikolay Davydenko, the 29th seed, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5, and Viktor Troicki of Serbia, the 13th seed, beat Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Go to Tennis Now for breaking news, match results and analysis as play continues at Wimbledon.