Serena advances, Wozniacki makes early exit

Williams, chasing a seventh Wimbledon title and record-equalling 22nd major, faces fellow American Christina McHale for a place in the last 32.

Serena Williams celebrating her victory over Amra Sadikovic in the first round of Wimbledon.   -  AP

Defending champion Serena Williams racked up her 80th Wimbledon victory Tuesday before torrential rain wiped out almost half the programme at the All England Club.

World No. 1 and six-time champion Williams, bidding for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, battled to a 6-2, 6-4 win over Swiss qualifier Amra Sadikovic, ranked at 148 in the world.

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She will face fellow American Christina McHale for a place in the last 32.

"I would be lying if I said I feel fresh, but I don't feel fatigue. I feel real hungry, super motivated, extremely ready to do the best," said the American star, whose mother Oracene Price was watching from the front row of the Centre Court Royal Box.

"I never underestimate any opponent. I always expect the best of myself," added Williams, who won 12 straight points at the start of the match to open a 3-0 lead.

However, not everyone gave her the royal seal of approval.

"It was one of the worst serving efforts I've seen from Serena. This is what is giving other players hope," said US legend John McEnroe, commentating for the BBC.

Top seed Williams won her 21st major at the All England Club 12 months ago by beating Garbine Muguruza.

But her hopes of going level with Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 has stalled since that day.

She went down to a US Open semi-final loss to Italy's Roberta Vinci followed by defeat in the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber and then to Muguruza in the French Open final.

Wozniacki's miserable run continues

For Caroline Wozniacki, just winning a Grand Slam match these days would be nice.

The former World No. 1 came into Wimbledon unseeded at a major for the first time in eight years and with a world ranking of No. 45, her lowest since 2008.

Faced with a tough first-round draw, the 25-year-old Dane departed quickly Tuesday after losing to 14th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7-5, 6-4, leaving her without a Grand Slam match win in 2016.

Wozniacki also fell in the first round at the Australian Open and missed the French Open with a right ankle injury. Her overall record this year is 11-11.

“It’s been a tough year in general,” Wozniacki said, taking a philosophical tone. “It’s been some injuries. It’s been some bad draws. It’s been uphill. But you just have to keep fighting, keep going at it, keep working hard, and hope eventually that’s going to turn and you’re going to take the chances you’re going to get.”

“That’s really all you can do right now,” she said.

Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 for 67 weeks in 2010 and 2011 and reached two Grand Slam finals, finishing runner-up at the 2009 and 2014 U.S. Opens. This was her 10th appearance at Wimbledon, where she has reached the fourth round five times but never made it to the quarterfinals.

Coming off the ankle injury, Wozniacki showed progress at the grass—court warmup tournament at Eastbourne, winning back—to—back matches for the first time since February.

” I thought I played some really good tennis in Eastbourne,” she said. “Obviously (I) was hoping I could step up from there and do more damage today. But it wasn’t enough.”

Wozniacki played well against Kuznetsova, also a former No. 1 player. She pushed the Russian but didn’t have enough to overcome her in a match played with the retractable roof closed over Centre Court because of rain.

“She played aggressively and stepped up when she had to,” Wozniacki said. “She did what she had to do today.”