Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty
AFP

Wimbledon: Top seed Ashleigh Barty was given an unexpectedly tough work-out as she renewed her acquaintance with Centre Court.

The Australian world No.1 seemed to be gliding serenely into the second round, even serving for the match in the second set, before finally triumphing 6-1, 6-7(1), 6-1.

It was always going to be emotional, with Barty's opponent Carla Suarez Navarro appearing in only her second tournament since announcing her recovery from Hodgkin lymphoma.

The Spaniard looked like she was heading for a hasty exit in a 25-minute first set but dug deep to turn a routine afternoon for Barty into a proper test of her credentials.

Barty still has to make a real impact as a Wimbledon contender. This is her fifth main draw appearance with her best result the round of 16 in 2019 when she lost to Alison Riske of America.

In the end there was no danger of a repeat as Suarez Navarro said her goodbyes to The Championships - she retires at the end of the year. Taking the match to a second set tie-break seemed to drain her energy.

At 5-0 and serving to stay in the match, Suarez Navarro was treated to a huge ovation. The crowd just wanted her to win a game and she did. Barty duly checked out on the first of three match points.

Roger Federer, former world No. 1 and eight-time Wimbledon champion, enjoyed a bit of fortune while advancing to the second round after his French opponent Adrian Mannarino retired due to injury at the end of the fourth set with scores level at two sets apiece.

The 39-year-old, who has won 20 Grand Slam titles, bagged the first set 6-4 before losing the next two 6-7(3) and 3-6. He came back to win the fourth 6-2 in a games that lasted two hours and 44 minutes.

World No. 41 Mannarino, who was able to get through to the fourth set with the injury before pulling out, had slipped behind the baseline which led to the injury. He also received on-court treatment on the knee.

"It is awful. It shows that one shot can change the outcome of a match, a season, a career," said Federer after the match.

"I wish him all the best and I hope he recovers quickly so we see him back on the courts. He could have won the match at the end. Obviously, he was the better player, so I definitely got a bit lucky," added Federer.

Federer, who currently ranked eighth in the world, is eyeing his 21st Grand Slam title to go clear of Rafael Nadal, who too has won 20 Grand Slam titles.

"You do not get many walkovers throughout a career and you try also not to have it happen to yourself. It is a reminder how quickly it goes. But of course, I am obviously happy I can get another chance for another match here. I worked very hard and at the end I enjoyed myself out here today. It was great fun until the end, obviously," he said at the Centre Court.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in