Defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised into the second round of Wimbledon before the rain hit on on Monday as Andy Murray went under cover to launch his bid to end Britain’s 75-year wait for a men’s winner.
Nadal, fresh from a record-equalling sixth French Open and 10th major in total, saw off 33-year-old American Michael Russell 6-4 6-2 6-2 win as the Spaniard opened proceedings on Centre Court on the first day of the 125th Championships.
The top seed, who unleashed 35 winners, set up a second round meeting with another American Ryan Sweeting who came from two sets down to beat Spain’s Pablo Andjuar.
Nadal’s win also extended his record of having never lost a first round match at a Grand Slam event with the 25-year-old now standing at 29-0 in his career.
But despite a bright start to the day, heavy rain eventually curtailed the day’s opening round with 13 of the scheduled 32 men’s singles matches having to be held over until Tuesday.
The miserable conditions meant that Wimbledon’s roof was called into action to at least ensure that fourth seed Murray, a semi-finalist for the last two years, was able to start his match against Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Nadal said he was delighted to be able to return to Wimbledon to defend his title, something which was denied him in 2009 because of a knee injury.
“It’s a very, very big emotion to come back to this beautiful court. Everything was perfect,” he said.
But Nadal refused to look too far ahead in the tournament and possible showdowns with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
“Let’s not talk about what might happen in 12 days. I might be here or I might be home fishing in Majorca,” said Nadal.
Nadal has constantly refused to entertain the prospect of chasing down Federer’s 16 Grand Slam titles, a show of modesty which sparked an astonishing outburst from former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe.
“I’m getting a little bit tired of him continuing to downplay his chances,” McEnroe told the BBC.
“There is definitely an argument for him not only being the best player at the moment, but the greatest of all time.
“Rafa has won things like the Davis Cup and an Olympic gold medal (in singles) that Roger Federer hasn’t, and he is right on his tail in terms of Grand Slam titles too – so why can’t he just say ‘look, I’m the best’.”