(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela advanced to the second round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2011 on Tuesday, twice coming back from a set down to defeat Marcel Granollers of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 33 minutes.
The 32-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 90 in the world, faces a far tougher task in the next round when he comes up against world No. 21 John Isner. The American giant defeated countryman Taylor Fritz 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 in the first round on Tuesday.
Sela, who has lost all four career meetings with Isner, entered Wimbledon in promising form after picking up some much-needed confidence by claiming his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the year and 22nd of his career on the grass in Nottingham, England.
After missing his first Grand Slam tournament in four years last month when he chose not to play in the Roland Garros qualifiers after just falling short of an automatic berth in the main draw, Sela finally ended his drought at the All England Club.
The best achievement of Sela’s Grand Slam career came at Wimbledon when he reached the last 16 in 2009. However, he had only progressed past the first round twice in eight appearances in the Wimbledon main draw until Tuesday.
Sela won 10 of the final 11 games against Granollers (112), who he also defeated in the first round of the Australian Open this year, with the Israeli converting every one of his five break points.
Elsewhere, the ATP ’s top ranked Jewish player, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman (37), was knocked out in the first round on Tuesday, losing 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2 to No. 13 seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Meanwhile, there can be few things in tennis more embarrassing than being beaten in the first round of a Grand Slam while ranked No. 1 in the world.
It is a painful memory that is still fresh in Angelique Kerber’s mind, having suffered that misfortune at the French Open just five weeks ago.
Luckily for her she proved the naysayers wrong with her 6-4, 6-4 win over American qualifier Irina Falconi.
“Playing first rounds in grand slams are always tough, especially with the memory of my first-round match that I lost in Paris,” Kerber told reporters after registering her first win at a Grand Slam tournament since bowing out in the fourth round at January’s Australian Open.
Later, Wimbledon fans with Center Court tickets suffered the disappointment of seeing the opponents of title contenders Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic retire early in their matches.
Second-seeded Djokovic advanced after Martin Klizan gave up after 40 minutes when 6-3, 2-0 down.
Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion, had taken the first set 6-3 before Klizan called the trainer on court to treat a leg injury.
The 47th-ranked Slovakian emerged for the second set, but was moving gingerly and was immediately broken by Djokovic, who then held to consolidate his lead before Klizan limped towards the umpire to pull out.
Chasing a 13th Grand Slam title, Djokovic came into Wimbledon after enduring a difficult year in which he relinquished his No. 1 ranking as well as his grip on all four majors.
He will play Czech Adam Pavlasek in the next round.
Seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer led 6-3, 3-0 when Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov withdrew with an ankle injury after 43 minutes.
Also, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic boomed down the fastest serve of this year’s tournament so far at 141 mph as the Canadian beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(4) in the first round on Tuesday.Reuters contributed to this report.