Federer opens bid for 8th Wimbledon title with romp; Errani out, Azarenka wins despite injury

  • Article by: STEPHEN WILSON , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: June 24, 2013 - 11:30 AM

LONDON — Ten years after his first Wimbledon championship, Roger Federer began his bid for a record eighth title at the All England Club on Monday with the same dominance that has defined his grass-court greatness.

Opening the tournament on Centre Court as defending champion, Federer looked right as home as he dismantled Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.

This was a grass-court clinic from Federer that lasted 68 minutes. He had 32 winners, seven aces and just six unforced errors.

He won 90 percent of the points when he put his first serve in. When his serve is clicking, Federer usually is unbeatable. On this day, he won his first 15 service points and 24 out of the first 25.

"I'm happy to get out of there early and quickly," Federer said. "So it was a perfect day."

Earlier, Wimbledon produced an upset in the women's draw with fifth-seeded Sara Errani eliminated by Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig 6-3, 6-2.

Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka overcame a right knee injury from a scary fall beating Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal 6-1, 6-2.

Azarenka screamed in pain after slipping and falling at the baseline in the second game of the second set. She sobbed on court and received medical treatment.

Playing the rest of the match with a heavy wrap on her right knee, Azarenka limped noticeably but managed to win comfortably against an opponent making her Wimbledon debut.

"I was in such pain at the beginning, it wouldn't let go," Azarenka said. "I think it calmed down."

Azarenka, a semifinalist the past two years, should get about 48 hours to recover before her next match.

"I couldn't believe what happened," she said. "I was in such shock."

Federer was followed on Centre Court by 2004 champion and third-seeded Maria Sharapova, who came through a first-set tiebreaker and beat 37th-ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-6 (5), 6-3.

At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, Sharapova hit a cross-court backhand winner to earn a set point, which she quickly converted with an over-the-shoulder backhand volley winner off Mladenovic's lob. The Russian was in command the rest of the way.

Last year, Federer equaled Pete Sampras and William Renshaw with seven Wimbledon titles. He is now contending to become the first man to win the tournament eight times, which would bring his total of Grand Slam titles to 18.

Looking back on the last 10 years, Federer said he has continued to improve.

"Because I'm stronger, because I have the experience, because I've played so much, I'm just overall a more complete player," he said.

In keeping with tradition, Federer had the honor of playing the first match on the sport's biggest stage. This was the seventh time he strode out first on Centre Court.

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