Second seed Aryna Sabalenka made short work of Hungary’s Panna Udvardy with a powerful 6-3, 6-1 victory to reach the second round at a rainy Wimbledon on Tuesday.
The Belarusian, unable to play last year because of Wimbledon’s ban on Russians and Belarusians in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, charmed the crowd with some dazzling play.
“I didn’t realise how much I missed this place until today,” Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals in 2021, said on court.
“This really means a lot for me. It’s really good to be one of the favourites at this great tournament.”
The Australian Open champion, part of the new big three in women’s tennis along with four-time Grand Slam winner Iga Swiatek and Wimbledon holder Elena Rybakina, revelled in the indoor conditions under the Centre Court roof.
She lost only five points behind her heavy first serve and crunched 20 baseline winners against her 82nd-ranked opponent.
The Minsk-born player showed some deft touches too, including a ‘tweener’ as she raced back to retrieve a lob. It did not win her the point but she celebrated anyway.
Sabalenka will face either Italian Camila Giorgi or Varvara Gracheva of France in round two.
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