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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 06/20/2011

Wimbledon 2011: Rafael Nadal starts slowly, then cruises to Centre Court win


Rafael Nadal’s first match wasn’t as difficult as this photo might suggest. (Clive Brunskill / GETTY IMAGES)

There was an early service break by Michael Russell, one that, for a brief flicker of a moment, seemed to indicate that Rafael Nadal might have his hands full in his first-round match at Wimbledon’s All England Club.

He did not. Nadal, the defending champion, quickly gained his bearings and went on to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Russell on Centre Court. Nadal, who won his sixth French Open last month, double-faulted to go down a break at 4-2 in the first set, then won six straight games.

“I started so-so in the first set, but after that I start to hit very well the forehand and I think I finished playing a very good level,” Nadal said.

Nadal was asked about the big topic du jour: Rory McIlroy’s victory in the U.S. Open on Sunday. “I left him a message, but you know how many messages you have when you win a tournament like this.”

McIlroy is expected to attend Wimbledon on Monday, sitting in the Royal Box. “I hope I’ll have a chance to congratulate him in person.”

Nadal’s parents, Sebastian and Ana Maria, were in the Royal Box today. “Too many beautiful things to see my mom and my dad in the Royal Box,” Nadal said. “I think for them [it] was a great experience. So, everything in general was very, very nice today.”

Among other men’s results, Thomaz Belluci (the 30th seed) of Brazil was the first seeded man to lose. He fell 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2 to Rainer Schuettler of Germany; Mardy Fish, the No. 10 seed from the U.S., beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4; Milos Raonic of Canada beat Marc Gicquel of France 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3; No. 14 seed Stanislas Wawrinka beat Potito Starace of Italy 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

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By  |  12:58 PM ET, 06/20/2011

 
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