AAP Tennis

Top seed Halep eases through at Wimbledon

By AAP Newswire

Simona Halep, the newest member of the grand slam champions' club demolished Japan's Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-4 to reach the second round of Wimbledon, but former champion Maria Sharapova is out.

Playing with a lighter load on her shoulders after winning the French Open title last month, Halep rolled back her arms and let the winners fly off her racket strings on Tuesday.

The Romanian world No.1 was broken once in the opening set and also faced two break points at 2-1 up in the second.

A forehand winner and a Nara error allowed Halep to sidestep that pothole and she wrapped up victory when Nara smacked a forehand long.

She will next face China's Zheng Saisai for a place in the third round.

"I was relaxed when I came here. I didn't push myself. I didn't put pressure on myself. I felt ready today," Halep said with a smile after winning her first match as a major champion.

Wimbledon's 2004 champion Sharapova tumbled out in the opening round for the first time, beaten by fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko.

The 31-year-old was making her first appearance at the All England club in three years having served a doping ban and then withdrawn from qualifying through injury 12 months ago.

It was also her first appearance on grass in that time, having pulled out of competing in Birmingham last month

The 24th seed won the first set on a tie-break and led 5-2 in the second but Diatchenko broke back, took the tie-break and prevailed in the third to win 6-7 (3/7) 7-6 (7/3) 6-4.

Twice former champion Petra Kvitova blamed increasing grand slam nerves after she also slumped in the first round, beaten by inspired world No.50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4 4-6 6-0.

Eighth seed Kvitova, who withdrew from the Eastbourne tournament last week with a hamstring injury, appeared to be moving well but looked pale and drawn particularly in the first set.

"I just didn't feel well obviously. Was a first round. The nerves were there again. I don't know,' the Czech said.

"I just tried to kind of fight with myself. Probably was the biggest opponent which I have."