Wimbledon’s second day became more of a talking issue about comments off the court than the action on it, as no major upsets were recorded.
Former champions and former world No 1s Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic both said Wimbledon should consider rule changes after their first-round opponents retired with injuries.
The biggest discussion surrounding the women was that of world No 1 Angelique Kerber who avoided an early upset as she overcame the American qualifier Irina Falconi to reach the second round.
Kerber, who reached last year’s final, has struggled for form in 2017 and lost in the first round of the French Open. Despite not being at her best against world No 247 Falconi, the 29-year-old German came through 6-4, 6-4.
But it was the men’s side which caused all the debate. Federer, the No 3 seed, led 6-3, 3-0 when Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov quit with an ankle injury after 43 minutes. And No 2 seed Djokovic progressed after a calf injury saw Martin Klizan pull out at 6-2, 2-0 down on 40 minutes.
‘We had a joke in the locker room saying we should maybe play a practice set on Centre Court,’ said Djokovic.
Both Klizan and Dolgopolov have struggled with injuries recently and their retirements made it five over the course of two days at the Championships.
The ATP men’s tour introduced a rule at the start of 2017 that means a player can retire before a first-round match and retain their prize money.
A lucky loser then gets the place and money earned from qualifying, plus any further prize money accrued from the second round onwards.
The rule is not in place at the four Grand Slam tournaments. ‘Maybe it should be addressed,’ said a frustrated Djokovic.
First-round losers at Wimbledon earn £35,000 this year, potentially encouraging players to take to the court when they know they are not fit enough to compete.
‘The question always is, should they have started the match at all?’ said Federer. ‘That, only the player can answer really, in my opinion. You hope that they would give up their spot for somebody else, even though they deserve to be in there, but fitness not allowing them.’
In other men’s action, Juan Martin del Potro overcame Thanasi Kokkinakis to seal a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 victory and reach the second round.
Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic, last year’s runner-up, saw off Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 (7-5), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) in his opening match.
Other seeded players, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Tomas Berdych and John Isner all won their respective first-round ties on a day of little drama.
Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP Photo
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