The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 24, 2013

Nadal falls in 1st round at Wimbledon to 135th-ranked player

(Continued)

The weather was mostly cloudy but dry for the beginning of the two-week championships. Among those in the Royal Box were former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of Prince William’s wife, Kate.

In women’s play, there was an early upset as fifth-seeded Sara Errani was eliminated by Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig 6-3, 6-2.

Puig slugged 38 winners in overwhelming Errani in the first match on Court 18. The 19-year-old Puig, playing her first grass-court tournament as a pro, completely outplayed the Italian veteran with her hard-hitting baseline game.

Puig said she has been building on a recent run of success, including a third-round showing at the French Open.

“Definitely pulling off some big career wins and not being afraid to close out matches, which was my problem at the beginning of the year,” she said. “Finally just having the confidence to close them out.”

In other women’s matches, second-seeded Victoria Azarenka overcame a right knee injury from a scary fall beating Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal 6-1, 6-2.

Azarenka screamed in pain after slipping and falling at the baseline in the second game of the second set. She sobbed on court and received medical treatment.

Playing the rest of the match with a heavy wrap on her right knee, Azarenka limped noticeably but managed to win comfortably against an opponent making her Wimbledon debut.

“I was in such pain at the beginning, it wouldn’t let go,” Azarenka said. “I think it calmed down.”

Third-seeded Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, came through a first-set tiebreaker and beat 37th-ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Sharapova drew attention over the weekend by delivering a sharp news-conference rebuke to Serena Williams over critical comments attributed to the top-seeded American in a recent magazine article. Sharapova swatted away questions about the feud Monday.

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