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Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fancy Federer rolls in Round One

Russia’s Gabashvili routed in three sets at Wimbledon

June 26, 2007

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— In his five-piece, tailor-made Gatsby getup, Roger Federer looked like a tennis player from a bygone era, one seen only in black-and-white photos.

As Federer warmed up Monday for what would become his 29th consecutive victory at Wimbledon, and 49th in a row on grass, he wore long trousers, replete with belt loops, and a sweater vest, all white with gold trim. An accompanying jacket, customized "RF" logo on the left breast pocket, was neatly draped over his changeover chair, completing the throwback ensemble.

His game was as modern and colorful as they come, filled with grace and power. It was too much for Teimuraz Gabashvili, a Russian who is ranked 86th and lost his first career match at Wimbledon, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, on a wet Day 1 at the grass-court Grand Slam, where winners included Andy Roddick, a slightly hobbled Serena Williams and Martina Hingis.

For Federer, it was his first match since losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal; the Swiss star skipped his usual grass-court tuneup tournament to rest a beat-up body.

"I was, of course, a bit worried, maybe, before the first round," said Federer, trying to equal Bjorn Borg's modern-era record of five straight Wimbledon titles. "I always expect myself to play good matches on grass. That's what happened today."

The No. 3-seeded Roddick defeated Justin Gimelstob, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3).

Williams (2002, 2003) and Hingis (1997) have won the championship at the All England Club, but there were moments when things didn't look so good for them Monday.

Williams double-faulted six times, made 20 unforced errors and was broken at 4-4, allowing the 57th-ranked Lourdes Dominguez Lino to serve for the first set. But Williams broke right back to start a nine-game run for a 7-5, 6-0 victory.

Afterward, Williams' father said she was injured and shouldn't be playing at all. She acknowledged she has a tight hamstring and said, "I did feel a little limited."

Hingis, back after missing 11â2 months with hip and back injuries, was in trouble against 18-year-old Naomi Cavaday of Britain, facing two match points at 5-4 in the second set. But Cavaday wasted the first by dumping a return into the net, and Hingis saved the second with a forehand winner. And that was it: Hingis took that game, followed by the next eight, and won 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-0.

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