Bouchard and Halep Fail to Reach 2014 Heights

By: Grant Fisken

Just under a year ago Eugenie Bouchard beat Simona Halep in straight-sets on Centre Court to reach the Wimbledon final. Only two days into the 2015 tournament, and both players have already been knocked out after shock first round defeats.

Canadian Bouchard, last year’s runner-up, was beaten 7-6, 6-4 by Chinese qualifier Duan Yingying. A combination of injury and woeful form was too much for the number 12 seed to contend with. She was still feeling the effects of an abdominal injury suffered at Eastbourne earlier in the month, but her season had still been awful prior to that setback, with her record now standing at 12 defeats from her last 14 matches.

Halep’s form is not much better, and she followed her second round French Open exit with another early grand slam loss. World number 106 Jana Cepelova came back from a set down to claim victory against the number three seed. The Romanian became the first player seeded in the top three of the women’s singles at SW19 to be eliminated in the first round since 2001, when then number one seed Martina Hingis was shocked by Virginia Ruano.

Last year’s other semifinalists both made it through to the second round. Lucie Safarova came from a set down to see off Alison Riske, and reigning champion Petra Kvitova lost only one game against Kiki Bertens. One-sided matches have been something of a feature of the women’s first round with Venus Williams, Andrea Petkovic and Angelique Kerber all recording 6-0, 6-0 wins in their opening match. This after there had not been a “double-bagel” in the women’s singles at Wimbledon for six years.

Another of the more convincing results in the first round involved the number nine seed Carla Suarez who was thrashed by Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, winning only two games in the process. Home interest comes solely in the form of Heather Watson, who saved three match points on her way to beating 32nd seed Caroline Garcia 8-6 in the deciding set.

In contrast, the men’s second round will feature four British players for the first time since 2006. Andy Murray’s win versus Mikhail Kukushkin was to be expected, but he will be joined by Aljaz Bedene, James Ward and Liam Broady. Bedene had lost both of his previous Wimbledon matches competing for Slovenia, but under his new flag he beat former quarterfinalist Radek Stepanek in five sets. Ward reached round two for the second time after knocking out lucky loser Luca Vanni, and Broady came from two sets down to beat Marinko Matosevic.

There was not too much to worry the main contenders in the opening round with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Murray, Rafa Nadal and Stan Wawrinka all winning in straight-sets. Lleyton Hewitt was denied a possible second round meeting with Djokovic after losing 11-9 against Jarkko Nieminen in the final set of what turned out to be his farewell appearance at SW19. It was Hewitt’s 44th five-set match in grand slam history, extending his own record.

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