2017 champion Garbiñe Muguruza started her 2021 Wimbledon campaign in dominant fashion, as the Spaniard dispatched Fiona Ferro of France 6-0, 6-1 in the opening round.
The No.11 seed Muguruza, who also reached the Wimbledon final in 2015, needed a mere 50 minutes to advance, as she improved to 2-0 against Ferro (4-0 in sets). Their previous meeting also came at a Grand Slam event, when they met in the second round of 2018 Roland Garros.
The former World No.1 Muguruza was in commanding form for nearly the entirety of the affair, converting six of her nine break points and hitting 10 winners to Ferro’s seven. The World No.51 Ferro was particularly undone by her unforced error count, which registered at 22 miscues.
"I was preparing for a battle, especially in grass court, which is sometimes difficult to play," Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. "Happy I felt good on the court. Since the first ball I was trying to dominate the point, and I felt I was doing it. Then, she might not have -- I think she didn't have her best day, but I felt in control in the match."
Ferro was playing only her second main-draw match at Wimbledon, after losing in the first round as a qualifier in 2019. Ferro, a two-time WTA singles champion on clay, still has yet to notch a main-draw match-win on grass at tour level.
Muguruza bolstered her 2021 win-loss record to 26-9 as she took her first step toward the possibility of a third Grand Slam title, to go along with her trophies at 2016 Roland Garros and 2017 Wimbledon. Four years ago, Muguruza became the first Spanish woman to win Wimbledon since Conchita Martinez in 1994.
"I don't feel really the pressure," Muguruza said. "I don't feel I have to prove [anything]. I have played well here. I'm excited to be back.
"I stopped feeling this kind of pressure of having to prove, having to show someone or the world that I have to perform well or anything. You know, I have been through that, and now I feel more calm, just doing my thing."
Muguruza was a perfect 3-for-3 on break points as she charged through the first set with no fuss. Ferro had chances to make the second set more competitive as her groundstroke game picked up, but missing two game points during a long service game at 2-0 proved costly, and the sterling returns by Muguruza propelled her to a 5-0 lead in that set as well.
Ferro prevented a dreaded double bagel by breaking Muguruza at the last possible minute, drawing an error from the former champion during a lengthy rally to close out the game. But too much pressure on return led Muguruza to romp to triple match point in the very next game, and the Spaniard wrapped up the win after a final Ferro forehand flew long.
Into the second round of Wimbledon for the sixth time, Muguruza will next face qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove of the Netherlands. Pattinama Kerkhove stunned two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3, 6-3, for her first Grand Slam main-draw win, in her third appearance in the main draw of a major.
Another Grand Slam champion, Sofia Kenin, also marched into the second round of The Championships. No.4 seed Kenin of the United States eased past Chinese qualifier Wang Xinyu, 6-4, 6-2, in their opening-round meeting.
"I felt like overall I served well," Kenin said in her post-match press conference. "I felt like it kind of saved me during today's match. Of course, returns. So there is some little stuff I have to improve, but overall I'm quite happy with the way I played.
"It's my first match on grass [this season] since I didn't play any previous grass tournaments. Of course I was a little bit more nervous since it was my first match on grass and it happens to be at Wimbledon, so obviously a little bit of nerves, but I was able to manage it. I'm happy with it."
Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion and 2020 Roland Garros finalist, moved into the second round of Wimbledon for the third time in her three appearances at the event -- though she has yet to go beyond that hurdle at the grass-court major.
It was another step in the right direction this time around for Kenin, as she needed just over an hour to dismiss the the World No.144, who was making her first appearance in the Wimbledon main draw.
Wang won her three qualifying matches without dropping a set, but it was a different story in her first match against a Top 10 opponent. Kenin won more than half of the points when Wang missed her first serve, which happened 60 percent of the time. Kenin was also solid on serve, facing just a single break point, which she swatted away.
Kenin required only one break of service in the opening set, which she claimed with a dropshot winner to take the 3-2 lead. The American stared down a break point at 4-3 following a stirring backhand return winner by Wang, but Kenin fended it off with a solid serve, then held on for 5-3 after a handful of deuces, and closed out the set two games later.
The second set was more comprehensive for Kenin, using forehand winners to convert break points at 2-2 and 4-2 to storm ahead. At 5-2, Wang saved one match point with a passing winner, but misfired a return long on Kenin’s second match point, sending the fourth seed back into the second round in London.
Kenin is guaranteed to face a fellow American in the second round: either Madison Brengle or Christina McHale.
Madison Keys also made safe passage into the second round, as the No.23 seed from the United States ousted British qualifier Katie Swan 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 12 minutes.
"I think I had a really good mentality going into today, kind of knowing that the rain was going to be a factor," Keys told the press, after her match and all the other outer court matches were delayed for four hours. "I just kind of knew it was going to be a long day, and I was prepared to go on and off the court.
"Once I got out there and saw the sunny skies, I felt pretty good about knowing that we were going to be able to finish the match."
Keys, whose best performance at the All England Club is a quarterfinal showing in 2015, never faced a break point against 22-year-old Swan, who is ranked World No.292.
Keys notched her best win of the season on the grass courts of Berlin two weeks ago, where she upset World No.4 Aryna Sabalenka. The American's powerful game continued to work at SW19 and was enough to pull her past Swan, as Keys had ten more winners and only two more unforced errors than the Brit.
"I think I handled the match pretty well," Keys said. "I obviously served really well, and I think the couple of opportunities that I had on her serve, I took them. I was pretty happy with it."
Up next for Keys will be her compatriot Lauren Davis, who also eased past a British player in her opening-round clash. Davis defeated wildcard Jodie Burrage, 6-2, 6-1, in 55 minutes. Davis went a perfect 5-for-5 on break points in the affair.