AAP Tennis

Dominant Nadal cruises into second round

By AAP Newswire

Rafael Nadal made a swift and successful transition from clay to grass as he cruised to a straight-sets, first-round win over Israel's Dudi Sela at Wimbledon.

The 32-year-old Spanish second seed was competing for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title in June but showed no sign of rust on a sultry Centre Court as he bagged a 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over his 127th-ranked opponent.

Nadal relentlessly produced his best work in exhilarating exchanges to sprint to lead by a set and a break after 40 minutes.

Sela offered little resistance and the writing was on the wall when Nadal unleashed a whipped lasso-like forehand to move two sets clear.

Nadal has often struggled to get off to a solid start at Wimbledon and fell at the fourth round stage to Giles Muller last year.

But this was a more confident Nadal as he opened up a 4-1 third set cushion with a determined volley en route to closing out the match in one hour and 50 minutes.

Nadal is looking to emulate his 2008 and 2011 feats when he won the Wimbledon title fresh from triumphing in Paris.

Only Bjorn Borg has managed it three times, his doubles coming in successive years from 1978-1980.

"Good start. Good result. Of course I did things very well, and other things that I have room to improve," Nadal said.

"I played one bad game with my serve, first game of the third. But I am happy more or less with the forehand. I went to the net quite often. Of course I can improve on the return side."

Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro also eased through in a 6-3 6-4 6-3 straight-sets success over Germany's Peter Gojowczyk.

Del Potro will play Feliciano Lopez next after the Spaniard downed his Argentine compatriot Federico Delbonis 6-3 6-4 6-2 to advance to the second stage.

The 36-year-old veteran Lopez is playing in a record 66th consecutive grand slam and moved one ahead of Swiss great Roger Federer, with whom he previously shared the best mark.

French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem's Wimbledon adventure ended abruptly in the first round as he retired with an apparent back injury while trailing Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 7-5 2-0.