Riske wins first-round match at Wimbledon

  • Staff and wire reports
June 24, 2014
Former PIAA tennis champion and Peters Township native Alison Riske advanced to the second round at Wimbledon by defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Tuesday. - Associated Press

LONDON – Alison Riske won her first-round match at Wimbledon Tuesday, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 at The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club in London.

Riske, a Peters Township native, will play Camila Giorgi of Italy in the next round later this week. Riske also begins doubles play with Madison Keys this week. Keys also won her singles match, defeating Monica Puig 6-3 6-3.

This was Riske’s third victory at Wimbledon the past two years.

She entered the tournament as the 40th-ranked woman in the world and is competing for the fourth time at Wimbledon. Pavlyuchenkova was ranked 26th and has twice reached the third round, most recently in 2010.

The 22-year-old Riske reached the third round of last year’s single tournament at Wimbledon before falling to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-2, 6-3. Riske was a wild card entry into that tournament. Riske competed in the French Open last month and was eliminated in the second round by Kristina Mladenovic of France.

Meanwhile, chasing a shot to his right, Rafael Nadal slipped and tumbled to the Centre Court turf. He popped up, raced across the baseline to get back into the point, and later capped the 14-stroke exchange with a backhand passing winner.

The reason for the two-time Wimbledon champion’s recent inability to play well on grass remains something of a mystery. As far as Nadal was concerned Tuesday, all that mattered was that he dusted himself off and eventually ended a three-match – and seven-set – losing streak on the slick surface.

Overcoming a deficit against a flat-hitting opponent who kept finding lines early, Nadal beat 51st-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round. Nadal’s reaction afterward – pumping fists, raising arms aloft, tossing souvenirs to the crowd – was rather over-the-top for a guy who owns 14 Grand Slam titles.

“So happy for the victory. In the end, the match was difficult. After the first set, (it) was even more difficult,” said the Spaniard, who is ranked No. 1 and seeded No. 2 but approached this opening-round encounter with some trepidation. “When you go on court and you lost last year in the first round, the year before in the second round … (I’m not) going to lie … it stays in your mind.”

Next for Nadal is a match against the man who beat him in 2012’s second round, Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.

“He is a very dangerous player; very strong, very powerful at the baseline,” Nadal said.

Other past champions in action on Day 2 advanced, too, including Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, all in straight sets. Last year, when everything around these parts was turned upside down by surprise after surprise, that trio joined Nadal with early exits; Williams was the last of the group standing, and she departed in the fourth round.

Williams needed to cast aside four break points during a 10-minute first game Tuesday, but after getting that out of the way, breezed to a 6-1, 6-2 win against Anna Tatishvili. Sharapova lost all of one game against British wild-card entry Samantha Murray.

Seven-time champion Federer’s 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory dropped Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi to 0-13 for his Grand Slam career, while 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt eliminated Michal Przysiezny of Poland 6-2, 6-7 (14), 6-1, 6-4.

“This is what I still play for,” said the 33-year-old Hewitt, a former No. 1 now ranked 48th after a series of injury issues. “You do all the hard work to come back and play in places like this. You don’t get sick of coming out here and playing at Wimbledon.”

One seeded man who lost was No. 29 Ivo Karlovic, beaten by Canada’s Frank Dancevic 6-4, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

Seeded women on the way out were No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, the 2008 U.S. Open runner-up; No. 28 Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time major champion who lost to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; and No. 29 Sorana Cirstea, who was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 by 18-year-old qualifier Vicky Duval of the United States.

Another U.S. teenager, wild-card entry Taylor Townsend, lost to No. 31 Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-2, but otherwise there was a strong showing by Americans. No. 9 John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla, Madison Keys and Varvara Lepchenko advanced.



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