Elena Rybakina overcomes early nerves to get title defence off and running
Elena Rybakina overcame a slow start to the defence of her Wimbledon title to beat Shelby Rogers in three sets.
Rybakina was playing on Centre Court for the first time since winning her maiden grand slam title 12 months ago and American Rogers threatened to produce some Independence Day fireworks as she took the opening set in style.
But, despite a recent illness which saw her pull out of the Eastbourne tournament last week, she found her feet and reminded everyone why she triumphed here last year by overrunning her opponent in the final two sets to claim a 4-6 6-1 6-2 victory.
She entered the court after eight-time men’s champion Roger Federer had been welcomed by the crowd and did not start well as Shelby broke her serve in the opening game of the match.
Rogers was able to save a break-back point at 2-1 and then produced some fine hitting that enabled her to take the advantage.
But that was as good as it got as Rybakina kicked into gear and raced away with the second set, breaking serve twice to take it in 29 minutes.
An early break in the decider proved key and Rybakina was able to move safely into the second round.
She said in her on-court interview: “It was really tough for me today, I was pretty nervous, I cannot even hide it. The double fault said it all in the first game of the match. I am really pleased to get to another round.
“I am feeling much better. Hopefully this win gives me more confidence for the next round.”
Her victory was the only women’s match able to be completed in the first four-and-a-half hours of play on Tuesday as heavy rain just after midday stopped all action on the outside courts.