Wimbledon: Serena and Sharapova safely through to second round

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Maria Sharapova breezed past Britain's Johanna Konta at Wimbledon.

Top seed Serena Williams and 2004 champion Maria Sharapova reached the Wimbledon second round after straight set victories.

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– Wimbledon diary: Taylor Swift inspires Serena

Top seed Serena Williams, bidding to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to wrap up all four majors in one season, endured a nervy start and was warned for swearing before completing a 6-4, 6-1 win over Margarita Gasparyan, the world number 113 from Russia who has never won a tour-level match in four years as a professional.

“It feels good so far. Just one match but it feels good just to be back here at Wimbledon. I’ve done so well here in the past so I’ll always have so many good memories,” said the 33-year-old American after her 73rd Wimbledon match win secured her a second round clash against Hungary’s Timea Babos.

Fourth seed Sharapova also reached the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Britain’s Johanna Konta. Sharapova, the 2004 champion, will face Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp for a place in the last 32.

“I was quite pleased with the way things went. It was my first competitive match in about four weeks, so I just wanted to start off really strong,” said the Russian.

Five-time champion Venus Williams wasn’t to be outdone as the 34-year-old American took just 42 minutes to crush compatriot Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-0. Williams hit 29 winners to just two from Brengle, the world number 36. But hers wasn’t the fastest win of the day as German 14th seed Andrea Petkovic needed just 38 minutes to see off Shelby Rogers of the United States.

Spanish ninth seed Carla Suarez Navarro went down 6-2, 6-0 to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in just 52 minutes while Italian 24th seed Flavia Pennetta lost 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas.

Two-time semi-finalist Victoria Azarenka, seeded 23, saw off Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-1 and seventh seed Ana Ivanovic breezed past Chinese qualifier Xu Yifan 6-1, 6-1. 

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Djokovic rages, Hewitt bids farewell

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Novak Djokovic faced more allegations of coaching from Boris Becker.

Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon second round on Monday as 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt’s 17-year All England Club career came to a bruising end.

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– Wimbledon diary: Taylor Swift inspires Serena
– #360podcast: Sport360 experts preview Wimbledon 2015

Defending champion Djokovic enjoyed a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber with crucial breaks in the ninth game of each set. 

But the world number one and top seed again found himself defending allegations that coach Boris Becker is using various means to coach him from the sidelines, a practice which is banned.

“I’m just trying to figure out what you want to achieve with this story. Do you want to say I’m cheating, my team? I’m really trying to figure out what’s behind this,” fumed the 28-year-old Djokovic.

The usually affable Serb added: “There are certain ways of communication which is encouragement, which is support, which is understanding the moment when to clap or say something that can lift my energy up, that can kind of motivate me to play a certain point. But it’s all within the rules.”

Djokovic, playing his first match since his defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final three weeks ago ended his hopes of completing a career Grand Slam, hit 12 aces and 36 winners past world number 33 Kohlschreiber. He next faces Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen who defeated Hewitt 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9 in a four-hour marathon.

It was Hewitt’s last singles match at the tournament — and 44th five-setter at the majors — as he plans to retire after next year’s Australian Open. “I probably don’t cry easily — pretty close today, but not quite,” said Hewitt.

Australia’s 26th seed Nick Kyrgios, who knocked out Rafael Nadal last year, eased past Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6).

US Open champion Marin Cilic, the ninth seeded Croatian and a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year, got past Japanese qualifier Hiroki Moriya 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4). Germany’s Tommy Haas, at 37 years and 100 days old, and who first played Wimbledon in 1997, beat Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to become the oldest man to win a match at Wimbledon since Jimmy Connors (38 years 308 days) in 1991.

Japan’s fifth seed Kei Nishikori needed his lower left leg strapped before clinching a gruelling 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over Italy’s Simone Bolelli. Meanwhile Canadian seventh seed Milos Raonic, a semi-finalist last year, beat Spain’s Daniel Gimeno 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).

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Wimbledon diary - Day 1: Swift & Drake

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Drake was in Serena William's press conference at Wimbledon.

It’s not every day you walk into a press room and you find Drake just sitting there, like you, waiting for Serena Williams. The Canadian rapper is in London because he is performing in the Wireless Festival and is a long-time friend of Williams.

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He had one friend with him and sat through Williams’ press conference listening and often laughing at some of the questions she was being asked.

Drake isn’t the only singer Williams has hung out with in London this week.

The world No1 attended a Taylor Swift concert on Saturday with Caroline Wozniacki and actually joined the country/pop star on stage for a little bit.

Williams may be used to competing in front of thousands of people but she admits it was nerve-wracking walking up on that stage with Swift.

“I really was really nervous,” said the 33-year-old. “I didn’t really want to do it. Taylor was like ‘oh, you have to come out’. All the other girls were like ‘oh, you have to do it’. I was hoping I didn’t break my neck, just disappear in the crowd.”

As a karaoke enthusiast, Williams is no stranger to performing. Would she consider pursuing a career in music after she’s done with tennis? “Yes. But the problem is I don’t have a voice, so I don’t have a choice,” she said with a laugh.

In a particularly long press conference, Williams also revealed who her ideal mixed doubles partner would be.

After long thought, she said: “Maybe Stan (Wawrinka). Because we’re really good friends. He won the French Open. We both wear Audemars (watches). I don’t know. I’ve known him for years. We’re just cool.”

Over on Court 2, the Australian fans were in brilliant form as they sang one chant after another for both Nick Kyrgios and later Lleyton Hewitt, who played his very last match at Wimbledon yesterday.

One of my favourites from day one was “Hit me with your best shot… fire away!” They definitely give a unique flavour to the matches.

Kyrgios enjoyed the fanfare on court but not so much some of the questions he got during his press conference, particularly the ones regarding NBA champions Golden State Warriors. Kyrgios is a huge Celtics fan and also admires Cleveland’s LeBron James, but ask him about Steph Curry and co and he might bite your head off.

“I don’t really like the Warriors, so I’m not going to talk about them,” he said when asked about Curry. “I think LeBron is, hands down, the best player in the world. I think any person looks up to him. He’s got great confidence. He works really hard. He doesn’t care what people think about him. He just does his job every day.”

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