Nadal Beats Wimbledon Rain, Murray Goes Under Cover


Defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised into the second round of rain-lashed Wimbledon Monday before Andy Murray went under cover for a winning start in his bid to end Britain's 75-year wait for a men's titlist.

Nadal, fresh from a record-equalling sixth French Open and 10th major in total, saw off 33-year-old American Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win as the Spaniard opened proceedings on Center Court on the first day of the 125th Championships.

The top seed, who unleashed 35 winners, set up a second round meeting with another American Ryan Sweeting who came from two sets down to beat Spain's Pablo Andjuar.

Nadal's win also extended his record of having never lost a first round match at a Grand Slam event with the 25-year-old now standing at 29-0 in his career.

But despite a bright start to the day, heavy rain eventually curtailed the day's opening round with 13 of the scheduled 32 men's singles matches having to be held over until Tuesday.

The miserable conditions meant that Wimbledon's £80 million roof was called into action to at least ensure that fourth seed Murray, a semi-finalist for the last two years, was able to finish his match against Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Murray recovered from a shocking start to defeat the 56th-ranked Spaniard 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0.

"They were good conditions to play in, but he was hitting the ball well," said Murray.

"I have played him before and practiced with him. He can be a bit up and down, but it's surprising he hasn't had great results on grass."

Nadal said he was delighted to be able to return to Wimbledon to defend his title, something which was denied him in 2009 because of a knee injury.

"It's a very, very big emotion to come back to this beautiful court. Everything was perfect," he said.

But Nadal refused to look too far ahead in the tournament and possible showdowns with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

"Let's not talk about what might happen in 12 days. I might be here or I might be home fishing in Majorca," said Nadal.

Nadal has constantly refused to entertain the prospect of chasing down Federer's 16 Grand Slam titles, a show of modesty which sparked an astonishing outburst from former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe.

"I'm getting a little bit tired of him continuing to downplay his chances," McEnroe told the BBC.

"There is definitely an argument for him not only being the best player at the moment, but the greatest of all time.

"Rafa has won things like the Davis Cup and an Olympic gold medal (in singles) that Roger Federer hasn't, and he is right on his tail in terms of Grand Slam titles too - so why can't he just say 'look, I'm the best'."

Elsewhere, Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych -- beaten by Nadal in last year's final -- stormed through to the second round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Italy's Filippo Volandri.

French ninth seed Gael Monfils defeated Germany's Matthias Bachinger 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 and Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss 14th seed, beat Italy's Potito Starace 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Monfils dedicated his win to close friend and former physio Philippe Manicom who is battling cancer.

"I was one of the last people he spoke to before he was put in a coma as he was suffering so much. It's not easy for me," said Monfils.

Richard Gasquet, the French 17th seed and a 2007 semi-finalist, clinched a 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) win over Colombia's Santiago Giraldo.

Germany's Rainer Schuettler, who made the last four in 2008, shrugged off his 35 years to defeat Brazilian 30th seed Thomaz Belluci 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-2.

American 10th seed Mardy Fish made the second round with a 7-6, (7/3), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 win over Spain's Marcel Granollers while highly-rated Canadian 31st seed Milos Raonic beat French lucky loser Marc Gicquel 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

However, Halle grasscourt tournament winner Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany went down in four sets to Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.

Three-time runner-up Andy Roddick, seeded eight, was due to start against German qualifier Andreas Beck, while former U.S. Open winner Juan Martin del Potro took the first set against Italy's Flavio Cipolla before the rains came down.