For the Day 1 Women’s Recap, click here
It was a bittersweet Day 1 on the grounds as Lleyton Hewitt played his last-ever match at the Championships. It was a fitting four-hour five-setter for Hewitt to end his career on, but on some level you feel like a champion like him deserved a win here, even if that meant a near-guarantee of a beatdown at the hands of World #1 Novak Djokovic. With no major upsets or other interest pieces on the day, the story belongs to Hewitt.
Who Looked Good
Tommy Haas (defeated Lavojic 62 63 46 62): Tommy Haas is back again. He keeps on getting hurt but he never gives up. Back after another extended injury, Haas won his first match in Wimbledon in impressive form. Sure, we don’t expect much from Lajovic on grass. But at the age of 37, Haas showed all of his old skill and, aside from a slight walkabout in the third set, looked darn impressive doing it. A meeting with Milos Raonic in Round 2 will really show us what Haas has left right now.
Liam Broady (defeated Matosevic 57 46 63 62 63): The 21-year-old Brit made his Wimbledon debut in style, looking unfazed while down two sets to come back and comfortably take the next three. Broady hit an astounding 64 winners to take his first career win at a Grand Slam. Up next is David Goffin.
Nick Kyrgios (defeated Schwartzman 60 62 76(6)): A straight-sets win, especially the strength of the first two sets, over the rising Schwartzman is nothing to sneeze at. Now, Kyrgios had some more disciplinary issues during the match that will earn himself a fine, but his play on the court itself was nonetheless impressive. A third-round match with Haas or Raonic looms if he wants to repeat last year’s quarterfinal showing.
Who Looked Bad
Philipp Kohlschreiber (lost to Djokovic 46 46 46): There is no shame in losing to the World #1. There is no shame in losing to the World #1 in straights. But there were parts of the match that were ripe for the taking for the German and he just couldn’t do it. He outplayed a rusty Djokovic for much of this match but got tight at the end of each set, leading to the scoreline you see here. Kohlschreiber should have at least earned a set here. Instead, it’s another what-could-have-been loss for the German, who seems to have these far too often.
Kei Nishikori (defeated Bolelli 63 67 62 36 75): Bolelli is not a great grass court player. He’s certainly not someone who should give the World #5 trouble. Nishikori’s power game works so well on the grass, even if his movement here isn’t perfect. It was a disappointing performance as unfortunate play crept in at crucial times. Still, survive and advance is the name of the game here, so he has time to correct whatever wasn’t working today.
Janko Tipsarevic (lost to Granollers 36 46 26): Am I being too tough on Tipsarevic here, who is just barely inside the Top 500 after from a 17-month absence due to foot injury? Maybe. But for someone who wants to get back to the Top 10 before he hangs up the racket, losing at Wimbledon to Marcel Granollers–who was a career 3-8 at SW19 before this match–is not the way to go. It’s a long road back for Tipsarevic, but he proved today that he is nowhere near the first steps, even.
Match of the Day
It feels like whenever Hewitt plays at a Grand Slam, he earns a spot here. But his first-round match against Jarkko Nieminen may very well be the match of the year, let alone the best match today. It started as a match of note, with the knowledge that the loser will be ending his Wimbledon career. Both are aging veterans with solid careers, though Hewitt’s Wimbledon title and two Grand Slams are by far superior to anything Nieminen has accomplished (he has a whole three Slam quarterfinals in his long career).
Hewitt came out to a two sets to one lead but was broken early in the fourth. It felt like Hewitt knew he couldn’t win that fourth set, and in short order Nieminen took it 6-0, losing only four points along the way. With the fifth set began a new match, though. Hewitt broke to open the set, only to be broken right back. After Hewitt held for 2-1, the pair traded breaks until Nieminen finally picked up a hold for 5-4.
It was a tight, tense, high-quality affair from there, with both players pulling out all the stops to keep their Wimbledon careers alive. Hewitt saved three match points in that 4-5 game and then, all of a sudden, no player could break. The two traded holds–sometimes tough, sometimes easy, but always tense–until Nieminen opened up his fourth match point opportunity with Hewitt serving down 9-10. The Aussie couldn’t save this one, despite the consistent antics of the Fanatics and the crowd, and just like that Hewitt’s Wimbledon career was over. It was a storied one, with a title and a ton of memorable matches. And, ultimately, it ended in a fitting manner–Hewitt fighting to the end, well past what his body should normally be capable of, until his body finally just gave out. If it’s any consolation, and it’s not, Nieminen’s Wimbledon career will probably end on Wednesday when he meets World #1 Novak Djokovic.
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