Thursday, January 18, 2018
Sports

Listless Venus bounced in first

WIMBLEDON, England — Racket bag slung over her shoulder, resignation written across her face, Venus Williams weaved through fans milling about on the sidewalks that players must traverse to get from Court 2 to the Wimbledon locker rooms.

Williams, 32, had just absorbed a lopsided first-round loss at the Grand Slam tournament she once ruled, a poor performance that raised questions about how much longer she will keep playing tennis while dealing with an energy-sapping illness.

She trudged by as her hitting partner, David Witt, was saying: "It's tough to watch sometimes. I think everybody sees it. I don't know what else to say."

Looking lethargic, and rarely showing off the power-based game that carried her to five Wimbledon titles and seven majors overall, Williams departed meekly Monday with a 6-1, 6-3 defeat to 79th-ranked Elena Vesnina of Russia. Only once before, as a teenager making her Wimbledon debut in 1997, had Williams exited so early at the All England Club.

She hadn't lost in the first round at any Grand Slam tournament in 6½ years. Still, Williams said she'll be at the London Olympics next month and is "planning" to be back at Wimbledon next year.

"I feel like I'm a great player," Williams said, sounding a tad like someone trying to convince herself.

She repeated that affirmation as she continued: "I am a great player. Unfortunately, I had to deal with circumstances that people don't normally have to deal with in this sport. But I can't be discouraged by that. … There's no way I'm just going to sit down and give up just because I have a hard time the first five or six freakin' tournaments back."

Later, as part of a slightly testy and awkward exchange with reporters, she said: "I'm tough, let me tell you. Tough as nails."

Her loss, in her first match since a second-round ouster at the French Open, was part of an odd Day 1, even if the true tournament favorites in action won easily: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova. Among those sent home were sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, the 2010 runner-up at Wimbledon; 11th-seeded John Isner of Tampa; No. 16 Flavia Pennetta; and No. 18 Jelena Jankovic, who was rather easily beaten 6-2, 6-4 by Kim Clijsters, a four-time major champion who has been beset by injuries in her last season on tour and, like Williams, is unseeded.

Other seeded losers: No. 23 Andreas Seppi, No.  24 Marcel Granollers and No. 27 Daniela Hantuchova, who was upset by 100th-ranked Jamie Hampton of the United States 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).

The biggest surprise might have been the way Isner, the highest-ranked American man, blew a match point, wasted a two-sets-to-one lead, dropped a tiebreaker on grass and lost 6-4, 6-7 (9-7), 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 in the first round against 73rd-ranked Alejandro Falla of Colombia.

Isner left his third consecutive major tournament after a five-set loss, including 18-16 at the French Open against 261st-ranked Paul-Henri Mathieu. This from a guy who's best known for winning the longest match in history, 70-68 in the fifth after more than 11 hours, against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010.

"I didn't put my opponent away. I had my chances, and I didn't do it. It's all on me. Was just not great on my part," said the 6-foot-9 Isner, who hit 31 aces to Falla's four. "I get out there sometimes, and lately it's happening quite a lot, and I get out there in the match and I'm just so clouded. I just can't seem to figure things out. I'm my own worst enemy out there. It's all mental for me, and it's pretty poor on my part."

Singles, Men, First Round Novak Djokovic (1), Serbia, d. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spain, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Fernando Verdasco (17), Spain, d. Jimmy Wang, Taiwan, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-5. Michael Russell, United States, d. Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, Spain, 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7). Julien Benneteau (29), France, d. Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Ryan Sweeting, United States, d. Potito Starace, Italy, 6-2, 2-0, retired. Richard Gasquet (18), France, d. Tobias Kamke, Germany, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Mikhail Youzhny (26), Russia, d. Donald Young, United States, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, d. Carlos Berlocq, Argentina, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (2). Janko Tipsarevic (8), Serbia, d. David Nalbandian, Argentina, 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Grega Zemlja, Slovenia, d. Josh Goodall, Britain, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4. Benjamin Becker, Germany, d. James Blake, United States, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-0, 6-4. Gilles Simon (13), France, d. Paul-Henri Mathieu, France, 6-3, 5-4, retired. Fabio Fognini, Italy, d. Michael Llodra, France, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Radek Stepanek (28), Czech Republic, d. Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine, 6-1, 1-0, retired. Roger Federer (3), Switzerland, d. Albert Ramos, Spain, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. Inigo Cervantes, Spain, d. Flavio Cipolla, Italy, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Viktor Troicki, Serbia, d. Marcel Granollers (24), Spain, 7-5, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 2-6, 8-6. Jeremy Chardy, France, d. Filippo Volandri, Italy, 6-0, 6-1, 1-0, retired. Philipp Petzschner, Germany, d. Blaz Kavcic, Slovenia, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Florian Mayer (31), Germany, d. Dmitry Tursunov, Russia, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-3. Martin Klizan, Slovakia, d. Juan Ignacio Chela, Argentina, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 11-9. Ernests Gulbis, Latvia, d. Tomas Berdych (6), Czech Republic, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4). Alejandro Falla, Colombia, d. John Isner (11), United States, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5. Ryan Harrison, United States, d. Yen-hsun Lu, Taiwan, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Xavier Malisse, Belgium, d. Marinko Matosevic, Australia, 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. Juan Monaco (15), Argentina, d. Leonardo Mayer, Argentina, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). Igor Andreev, Russia, d. Oliver Golding, Britain, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7), 7-5. Jerzy Janowicz, Poland, d. Simone Bolelli, Italy, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Denis Istomin, Uzbekistan, d. Andreas Seppi (23), Italy, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6. Paolo Lorenzi, Italy, vs. Nicolas Mahut, France, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, susp., darkness. Nicolas Almagro (12), Spain, vs. Olivier Rochus, Belgium, 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 2-2, susp., darkness. Guillaume Rufin, France, d. Steve Darcis, Belgium, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Singles, Women, First Round Agnieszka Radwanska (3), Poland, d. Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia, 6-3, 6-3. Sam Stosur (5), Australia, d. Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain, 6-1, 6-3. Sorana Cirstea, Romania, d. Pauline Parmentier, France, 6-4, 6-1. Camila Giorgi, Italy, d. Flavia Pennetta (16), Italy, 6-4, 6-3. Li Na (11), China, d. Ksenia Pervak, Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-1. Ayumi Morita, Japan, d. Jarmila Gajdosova, Australia, 6-4, 6-3. Sabine Lisicki (15), Germany, d. Petra Martic, Croatia, 6-4, 6-2. Anna Tatishvili, Georgia, d. Tamarine Tanasugarn, Thailand, 6-4, 6-2. Elena Vesnina, Russia, d. Venus Williams, United States, 6-1, 6-3. Andrea Hlavackova, Czech Republic, d. Chang Kai-chen, Taiwan, 6-1, 6-2. Hsieh Su-wei, Taiwan, d. Virginie Razzano, France, 6-2, 6-4. Arantxa Rus, Netherlands, d. Misaki Doi, Japan, 7-5, 6-3. Maria Sharapova (1), Russia, d. Anastasia Rodionova, Australia, 6-2, 6-3. Tsvetana Pironkova, Bulgaria, d. Vesna Dolonc, Serbia, 5-7, 6-0, 7-5. Bojana Jovanovski, Serbia, d. Eleni Daniilidou, Greece, 5-7, 6-3, 2-0, retired. Stephanie Foretz Gacon, France, d. Monica Niculescu (29), Romania, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Peng Shuai (30), China, d. Sandra Zaniewska, Poland, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3. Petra Cetkovska (23), Czech Republic, d. Vania King, United States, 6-4, 6-2. Sloane Stephens, United States, d. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-2. Timea Babos, Hungary, d. Melanie Oudin, United States, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Angelique Kerber (8), Germany, d. Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-1. Kim Clijsters, Belgium, d. Jelena Jankovic (18), Serbia, 6-2, 6-4. Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, d. Alberta Brianti, Italy, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Nadia Petrova (20), Russia, d. Maria Elena Camerin, Italy, 6-0, 6-2. Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Spain, d. Naomi Broady, Britain, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Spain, d. Edina Gallovits-Hall, Romania, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. Maria Kirilenko (17), Russia, d. Alexandra Cadantu, Romania, 6-3, 6-1. Mathilde Johansson, France, d. Lesia Tsurenko, Ukraine, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. Heather Watson, Britain, d. Iveta Benesova, Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-1. Jamie Lee Hampton, United States, d. Daniela Hantuchova (27), Slovakia, 6-4, 7-6 (1). Christina McHale (28), United States, vs. Johanna Konta, Britain, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-7, susp., darkness. Vera Zvonareva (12), Russia, vs. Mona Barthel, Germany, 2-6, 7-6 (3), susp., darkness.

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