LONDON (Reuters) - Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic proved shock-proof as a sense of order was restored on Tuesday after the tremors that rumbled around Wimbledon on opening night following Rafa Nadal’s defeat.
The top seeds limbered up on a sunny Centre Court with easy first-round wins to get their challenges underway, with Williams overpowering Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella 6-1 6-3 before Djokovic dispatched German Florian Mayer in straight sets.
A day that began with Belgium’s Steve Darcis waking up as the sport’s latest giant-slayer after his shock first round defeat of 12-times major champion Nadal on Monday, continued in far less dramatic fashion at the All England club.
The 31-year-old Williams pocketed the first set in 19 minutes against Minella and despite a slight hiccup in the second when she double-faulted to drop serve, her 32nd consecutive victory was as straightforward as they come.
Likewise, Djokovic as he outmaneuvered Mayer, a player just outside the top 32 seeds and who he faced in the quarter-finals last year, for a 6-3 7-5 6-4 victory.
Nadal’s fourth-seeded compatriot David Ferrer, who he beat to win an eighth French Open, completed a far-from-memorable Centre Court program with a 6-1 4-6 7-5 6-2 win against Argentina’s Martin Alund despite several tumbles.
Other men’s seeds also flourished with Czech 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, Argentine 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, Germany’s Tommy Haas and talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov all enjoying straight sets wins.
In the women’s draw, last year’s runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Samantha Stosur and Angelique Kerber all progressed but 10th seed Maria Kirilenko’s form in reaching the French Open last eight vanished as she suffered a surprise 6-3 6-4 defeat by Britain’s Laura Robson.
Robson’s win staunched a flow of defeats for home players which had threatened to leave Andy Murray as the only surviving Briton in the second round.
Big-serving American Sam Querrey, the 21st seed, also suffered a first-round exit, losing in five sets to Australian Bernard Tomic, having battled back from two sets down.
Williams said she had been “really sad” at Nadal’s exit, something she put down to the quick change from the claycourts of Paris to Wimbledon’s slick lawns, a transition she said had left her feeling a bit rusty on Ladies Day.
“I played a lot of matches on clay this year, more than I’ve played I think ever,” the five-times Wimbledon champion and winner of 16 major singles crowns, told reporters.
“I had a little tough time adjusting today. So for him (Nadal) it must have been a lot more difficult because he only played clay courts. I feel like I was a little rusty for some reason today.”
Djokovic had not played a competitive match since losing an epic French Open semi-final to Nadal earlier this month and was clearly relieved to have avoided any early stress.
The Serb did not drop a single service game as he clicked effortlessly through the gears but said Nadal’s defeat served as a warning that nothing can be taken for granted.
“In the opening rounds it’s very dangerous for top players who haven’t been playing on grasscourt matches this year before Wimbledon,” 2011 champion Djokovic said.
”You know, the sport is evolving, like everything in life. Everybody is getting better, getting more professional.
“Especially at grand slams there are a lot of quality players who have nothing to lose really coming on Centre Court or Court One playing in front of 10,000 or more people.”
Williams may be the wrong side of 30 but Day Two at the championships proved that tennis is a game of ages.
Her compatriot, 18-year-old American Madison Keys, showed that the future of U.S. women’s tennis is in safe hands as she marked her Wimbledon debut by beating Britain’s Heather Watson.
At about the same time, 42-year-old Japanese player Kimiko Date-Krumm was flying the flag for the golden oldies after a 6-0 6-2 rout of 18-year-old German qualifier Carina Witthoeft.
“Tennis is not only power, not only speed, not only for young players,” said Date-Krumm, who pulled out a teapot to explain her love of the beverage during her news conference.
“It doesn’t go on court though. It’s too hot!”
Old stager Haas, enjoying an Indian summer to his career at the age of 35, was joined in the second round of the men’s draw by 33-year-old American James Blake who lined up a clash with Tomic after crushing Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker.
“There’s going to be days it might not be pretty, but I still feel like the next day I turn around I can be the top guy,” said former top-five player Blake, now down at 87th.
“If I can’t do it every single week like I used to, I have to accept that. Father time gets us all, so I‘m doing my best.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris