Unknown Jessica bounces out defending champ Vondrousova

Jessica Bouzas (left) is pumped up after shocking defending champion Vondrousova. Andy Murray waves goodbye after pulling out (Image: @Wimbledon)

One match can transport you from anonymity to stardom at the Wimbledon. On Tuesday, even as fans arriving late were trying to settle down in their seats at the theatre called Centre Court, Spaniard Jessica Bouzas Maneiro came out smoking. To defeat defending champion Marketa Vondrousova from the ladies singles 6-4, 6-2 in the first round was amazing. Pre-match expectations were different and for those who regularly try their luck at the official betting tills at Ladbrokes and William Hill, this was the mother of all upsets.

Most unpredictable at Wimbledon are two things, the weather and results. One cannot control rain, clouds and stoppage of play, unless it is Centre Court or Court No. 1, which have retractable roofs. Likewise, for the defending champion to face scrutiny in the first round is not easy, as has been the trend in the past. Was this Marketa the champion from 2023 on view or an impostor! The mistakes she made were unpardonable and a clear sign of nerves.

If you are going to commit 28 unforced errors, rifle in seven double faults and, yet, expect to get away, that’s not going to happen on grass, where the points are relatively short. And, if you think of bull fights in Spain, Jessica very much waved the red flag at Marketa and produced tennis which was attractive and effective. That is how she plotted the downfall of the defending champion.

Marketa admitted later she was nervous. For Jessica, it was sheer joy. After all, she was a qualifier at Wimbledon last year. “I had so good memories from the last year, of course. My first qualifying here, in this tournament. It was my first time in grass also. Yeah, playing against Vondrousova in grass here in this place was like another memory, another good memory. I think I’m going to love this tournament more than before,” she said. Her English may not be perfect, but when it comes to the grammar of tennis, she showed perfection.

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Before the start of the day’s action, there was bad news as Sir Andy Murray — trying to force his way back into action after a back surgery — pulled out of singles. To say he was gutted and left many more fans teary-eyed is stating the obvious. This was supposed to be his farewell appearance at Wimbledon, though there is still that odd chance that he will try and play doubles with his brother Jamie later this week.

The man tennis fans identify with greatness showed he has come well prepared, despite a knee operation. Novak Djokovic, wearing a support on his right knee, has done many things to get fit. His recovery from a meniscus tear, after needing to go under the scalpel 27 days ago and then bounce back with rehab and strengthening is mind-boggling.

To say that Novak is playing with vengeance would be wrong. For the winner of seven Wimbledon titles, and wanting to win a 25th Grand Slam, the opener against Czech qualifier Vit Kopriva suggested that this 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win was like a stroll in the park. Novak made it look simple, even though the knee support was a bit scary. Grey stood out, as Wimbledon has an all-white dress code. However, minor concessions, if needed, are given to Novak the champion. More than the strokes he produced, those who follow physiology were keen to see how much pressure Novak could put on his operated knee.

There were times he had to fully stretch it, for tennis on grass is not easy. Low bounce or bad bounce, that’s why tennis on grass is different. Fans love it and so does Novak! “Very good, I am pleased with the way I felt on the court. I didn’t know how everything would unfold. I am extremely glad about the way I felt and the way I played,” he said.

For the record, Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion, hit the cruise control button to ease past Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. This was her 20th consecutive win.

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