Good fortune was upon us as another day of clear skies and non-stop action hit the courts of Wimbledon yesterday. Four IMG students still had to play their first round matches at the All England Club and they did not disappoint. Xavier Malisse and Maria Sharapova both advanced as Kei Nishikori and Heather Watson put up good fights but could not find the form to gain a second round appearance. Let's take a look at each player to break down their performance and look ahead into the draw.
I guess 29 years of age is the time to find your game, because Xavier Malisse has been playing some phenomenal tennis as of late. In the two warm-up tournaments prior to Wimbledon, the Belgian reached the quarterfinals or better while showing improved form. In the opening round yesterday, Malisse showed his grit as he took out 14th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain in five long sets. The grass court lets Xavier play relatively short points and hit balls within his strike zone around his hip. If he can hold his nerves, his draw is wide open as he plays Julian Reister of Germany next round.
The Wimbledon crowd should definitely be talking about the 23 year old Russian. She has come into this years Championships healthy and showing the confidence that we are use to. She won her opening round match against Anastasi Pivovarova in under an hour 6-1, 6-0. Her serve was hitting every spot in the box with high velocity and she was seen moving forward any chance she got. The grass court will reward Maria anytime she is that offensive. A fourth round match up with Serena Williams should be her first real test, but it will be one she must pass if she wants to win another Wimbledon crown.
The young Brit definitely had the crowd on her side heading into this years event. Watson won a round after qualifying at last weeks warm-up event and proved she could compete with top players on the WTA Tour. Her first Wimbledon performance was a good one for all things considered. She handled her nerves well, but Romina Sarina Oprandi came out the victor in a tightly contested three set match. I look for Heather to have many more grand slam appearances down the road, so we have not seen the last of her by any means!
What can you say about Kei Nishikori's first round match up with Rafael Nadal? It was unlucky and nothing less than a miracle had to take place to secure a victory. The good news is the young kid from Japan held his own during the three set affair. Nadal clearly controlled the tempo, but Kei got center court experience against the best player in the world.
Day 3 at Wimbledon is sure to be a good one as more IMG students are set to play their second round matches. Taylor Dent, Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, and Ricardas Berankis are all in action today and are looking to make the third round.
For more up to date news, scores, and draws, visit the Wimbledon website here.