• Wimbledon, Day Two

Nadal passes early Bellucci test

ESPN staff
June 26, 2012 « Kvitova overcomes shaky start to defence | Chartbeat test »

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Last year's runner-up Rafael Nadal rebounded from a surprisingly slack start to win his first round match against fellow left-hander Thomaz Bellucci 7-6 6-2 6-4 at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

After two early breaks of serve Nadal briefly found himself 4-0 down in the opening set, but he soon regained his footing in the contest and resumed his usual domineering style of play, eroding Bellucci's confidence with every imperious forehand on the way to a straight sets victory.

In the beginning it was Bellucci - left-handed, wearing a bandana, blessed with a whip-like forehand - who was dominant against the player he shares a striking resemblance to, as he silenced the crowd on Centre Court with a fast start to open a sizeable lead over his opponent.

Nadal temporarily looked bewildered but he soon found his stroke and, as Bellucci's forehand began to falter, he roared back to 4-4 as normal service looked to be resumed. The first set nevertheless went to a tiebreak, but Bellucci picked a bad time to throw in some unforced errors as the Spaniard eased into the ascendancy.

From there, the result was almost never in doubt - Nadal breaking early and often on the way to quickly run away with matters. Bellucci did break back in the third to briefly level up matters, but his opponent struck right back on the way to wrapping up victory in a little over two hours.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also into the second round, last year's semi-finalist making relatively light work of the usually dogged Leyton Hewitt to win in straight sets.

Tsonga was forced into some athletic play by the former champion but his class shone throughout, as the fifth seed - who could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals this year - bullied the Australian wildcard entrant on the way to a 6-3 6-4 6-4 triumph.

Out on Court No. 2, there was something of a shock as last year's quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic was unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament by rising Belgian star Daniel Goffin.

Tomic, the 20th seed, breezed to the opening set but from then on was struggling for rhythm against his wildcard opponent, who eventually claimed a 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory in just over two hours and 30 minutes. He will now face Karol Beck in the second round.

Another Belgian, Olivier Rochus, was not so lucky, however - moving two sets ahead but eventually being overwhelmed by 12th seed Nicolas Almagro 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2 6-4.

Elsewhere, Nicolas Mahut won another five-set epic to move into the second round, defeating Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 5-7 6-7 7-5 6-2. Mahut would have been due to face John Isner, his opponent from two years ago, had the American not lost on Monday.

There were also wins for Alexandr Dolgopolov (against Alexander Bogomolov Jr) and Mardy Fish. Kei Nishikori and Brian Baker all clinched wins.

A furious Feliciano Lopez was one player who went home, however, succumbing in four sets to Jarkko Nieminen in a contest that saw the Spaniard, the 14th seed, fume at the umpires and break a racquet during an ill-tempered display.

Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic and Philipp Kohlschreiber also claimed wins late in the day - the latter outlasting Tommy Haas in a five-set marathon, clinching the decider 6-2.

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