Men: Djokovic, Federer breeze through
World number one Novak Djokovic cruised past Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-3 6-1 with consummate ease in the first round of Wimbledon.
As tradition dictates, the reigning champion opened up proceedings on Centre Court as Djokovic began the defence of his title in hugely convincing and impressive fashion.
For Ferrero, it was a humbling experience as the top seed lost just seven games in the match in what was a magnificent display of aggressive shot-making on the grass.
It took just an hour and 33 minutes for the Serb to steamroller his opponent, a match which he described immediately afterwards as “beautiful”.
The top seed strolled onto Centre Court beaming as he received a tremendous ovation from the crowd and looked extremely relaxed and relieved to finally get going.
But it was Ferrero who started the brighter, forcing two break points on the Serb’s serve in just the third game of the match after having held his own in very convincing fashion.
Ferrero closed out the break in clinical fashion, but Djokovic wasted no time in roaring straight back to restore parity with a flurry of belligerent groundstrokes.
The Spaniard traded blows with his opponent from the back of the court, but lacked the same conviction and power on the key points as he slipped behind from 4-3 down.
Djokovic pounced to seize control in the eighth game of the match as he broke for a second time, and an emphatic forehand winner saw the Serb capitalise on a sub-par service game from Ferrero.
The top seed wasted no time in serving out for the set, and suddenly his opponent was left looking dispirited despite a very fine hold at the start of the second set.
Djokovic bludgeoned a fierce forehand winner cross court to close out a brilliant break in the third game of the second set, and Ferrero was being held firmly under the cosh.
Ferrero, a former world number one, kept pace with the Serb thereafter and saved four set points when serving at 5-3 down with the crowd imploring him to continue to challenge.
But the Spaniard finally wilted as Djokovic broke serve to take the set 6-3, and a huge roar of approval demonstrated how fired up he was after having been presented with a stern challenge.
The third set was considerably more comfortable for Djokovic, who broke in just the second game to reassert his dominance with Ferrero looking increasingly despondent.
A second successive break of serve in the fourth game followed, and the Serb was not missing from the back of the court as he left Ferrero utterly dejected.
The Spaniard mustered a solitary hold in the sixth game to reduce the deficit and avoid the ignominy of a final-set bagel, and Djokovic was duly forced to serve out for the match.
The world number one had no problem closing out the match in hugely efficient fashion, and he strode off court having barely been tested in his opening-round match.
Next up for the top seed will be a second-round clash with Ryan Harrison of the USA as Djokovic continues his defence of the title he won in dramatic fashion last year - but he insisted his first round victory was not the walk in the park that it looked.
"The grass is not like it used to be," he said.
"Now it's more about baseline players, which made him more dangerous for me in this match.
"The first two sets were exciting and close. I was very satisfied with my performance."
Roger Federer left Wimbledon debutant Albert Ramos shell-shocked after thrashing him 6-1 6-1 6-1 as the Swiss six-times champion enjoyed an easy start to the 2012 tournament.
Federer, bidding to win a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon crown and a 17th overall grand slam, needed just 79 minutes on Court One to sail through the first round.
Spaniard Ramos, who had played only one previous grasscourt match, was unable to respond to Federer's skill, though he had one brief spell of fighting back.
He took the fourth game of the second set to deuce nine times and after saving four breakpoints, he put a forehand long on the fifth.
When the 24-year-old left-hander won his only game of the third set, for 5-1, the crowd gave him a big cheer but Federer, who will now face Italian Fabio Fognini, finished him off to love in the following game, concluding with his ninth ace.
Federer, who became the most successful active player on grass with his 106th win on the surface, said the ease of his win had given him a chance to practise his serve-and-volley game.
"Obviously being up a double break, or at least a break, up 30-love on your serve, you don't feel any pressure doing it," he said.
"It's rare to be up in the scoreline like today on a regular basis. It is maybe why it is a good time to try it out, then you can use it in tougher moments, difficult moments, to throw your opponents off. Who knows if I'll need it down the stretch?"
The third seed was relaxed about being put on Court One, instead of Centre Court, for his opening match.
"I don't mind it," he said. "I actually expected it, to be quite honest. If you make it down the stretch, you will get your Centre Court matches. It was as nice on Court One today."
Czech Tomas Berdych was the biggest casualty on the opening day, the sixth seed getting beaten 7-6 7-6 7-6 by Latvia's Ernests Gulbis.
Berdych, beaten by Rafa Nadal in the 2010 final, saved a match point at 4-5 down in the third set when Gulbis missed a backhand winner by millimetres, but he succumbed in the tiebreak when he netted a forehand.
Gulbis, seen as a rising talent a few years ago but who has never delivered on his full potential, is languishing at 87th in the world rankings but played some sensational tennis to leave Berdych reeling.
The 23-year-old is looking to end a dismal run in grand slams in which he as not gone beyond the second round since reaching the French Open quarter-finals in 2008, and admitted after the match that he is frustrated by his own patchiness.
"I saw the draw and I was really happy. I wanted to play first round against a tough opponent. It motivates me much more, especially first round. I really was really happy when I saw the draw," Gulbis said.
"If it had been somebody even higher ranked I wouldn't have a problem with that also. I felt really, really good," he added, admitting that he has tried to change his approach to practice after years of underachievement.
"I don't enjoy it. But if there is a right person who can push me, and I understand why I need to do it, the results come. Slowly I start to understand what's necessary," he said.
"It's really simple. You practice, results will come. You don't practice, results will not come."
Another surprise was the exit of American number one John Isner, the 11th seed.
The man best remembered for his record-breaking 11-hour duel with France's Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, was beaten 6-4 6-7 3-6 7-6 7-5 by Colombian Alejandro Falla.
Isner's defeat means there can be no third successive Wimbledon clash against Mahut - a potential second round opponent for Falla if the Frenchman beats Paolo Lorenzi.
Fiery Argentine David Nalbandian let his tennis, not his temper do the talking at Wimbledon but it was to no avail for tennis's new villain as he folded 6-4 7-6 6-2 against Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in the first round.
It marked the end of a miserable eight days for Nalbandian, who was disqualified from the Queen's Club final eight days ago for injuring a line judge.
The Argentine, who reached the Wimbledon final at his first attempt 10 years ago, had a brief spat with the umpire over a disputed line call when trying to break back in the second set against Tipsarevic. But the fireworks were a damp squib compared to his fury at Queen's.
In fact his only argument of the day fired Nalbandian into drawing level, only to lose the tiebreak and slump two sets down.
At Queen's, he slammed his foot into an advertising board which disintegrated and cut a gash in linesman Andrew McDougall's leg. Nalbandian was fined the maximum of 10,000 euros by the governing body of men's tennis and forfeited prize money of at least $56,800.
The linesmen were safe at Wimbledon - no advertising hoardings are allowed on the hallowed turf of this tennis temple. They even felt relaxed enough to take off their blue blazers and officiate in shirt sleeves.
The Argentine has long had a reputation as a tennis firebrand. Ten years ago he was thrown out of a tournament in Chile for hurling a torrent of verbal abuse at a linesman.
Back as a junior in 1999, he was defaulted at Wimbledon in the semi-finals of the boys singles after arriving late for his match.
On Monday, there was no trouble with the time keeping. He and Tipsarevic arrived on a sun-kissed Court One to warm applause from the crowd.
He even earned cries of "Come on David" when battling hard to combat the superior firepower of Tipsarevic but Nalbandian's game simply failed catch fire.