No.3 seed Ons Jabeur opened play on No.1 Court at Wimbledon 2022 with a 6-1, 6-3 defeat of qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund in just 53 minutes.
For the second major in a row, the Tunisian comes in fresh off a title and in hot form, having won in Berlin two weeks ago and ascended to World No.2 this week. At Roland Garros, she was unable to translate her Madrid trophy into the result she wanted, crashing out in the first round to Magda Linette, and ahead of Wimbledon, Jabeur said that she had learned from that experience.
Indeed, against Bjorklund, Jabeur barely put a foot wrong, striking 11 winners to the Swede's three. Jabeur was especially dominant on serve: she conceded only five points behind her first delivery and a measly two behind her second.
Three of those seven points came in a single game, when she led 4-2 in the second set. Jabeur responded to the only two break points she faced all day by rattling off four straight points.
In between her efficiently powerful serves and forehands, Jabeur found room for several crowd-pleasing dropshots, including a clean return winner to seal the first set.
Bjorklund is ranked at No.125, two places off her career-high, after a career-best season that has seen the 23-year-old reach her first WTA quarterfinal in Bogota and make her Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros. She contributed a nervy 20 errors to only three winners, but settled into a groove on serve to make the second set more competitive.
Jabeur will face either Rebecca Marino or qualifier Katarzyna Kawa in the second round.
Jabeur on what's changed since Roland Garros: "I don't like to make the mistake twice. I learned a lot from the first round in Roland Garros. Obviously everything feels different here. I feel more ready. Starting Monday, not Sunday, is much better for me. Scheduling, playing few matches, just get the perfect amount of playing on grass was great.
"Plus, you know, gaining more confidence playing along Serena [in Eastbourne doubles] also helped me with the great attitude on the court. [To] start to be a leader on the court. That's what I'm trying to do. Trying to have that attitude."
Jabeur on the process of dealing with pressure: "Serena picked me. I mean, that's a huge honor, great pressure for me to feel it. I feel like maybe two or three years ago, if she did the same thing, I would have played horribly and not been able to handle that kind of pressure. But now I feel like it was the right time that I play with someone like Serena.
"[On court], last time I was thinking about pressure, it didn't work very well for me. I'm trying to handle it. The learning: obviously I've never been in this situation before. I was joking with [Novak] Djokovic. I told him, 'Give me some of the touch to win Wimbledon.' I was stealing it.
"Obviously I want to turn that great pressure into great things on the court. Like I said, I just want to be like a great leader."
Riske-Amritraj, Chwalinska post opening wins
No.28 seed Alison Riske-Amritraj posted the first victory of this year's Championships, defeating Ylena In-Albon 6-2, 6-4 in 66 minutes. The American, a quarterfinalist here in 2019 and finalist in Nottingham three weeks ago, tallied 26 winners to only 15 unforced errors, and won 20 of 32 points at net.
Riske-Amritraj will next face qualifier Maja Chwalinska, 20, who also delivered a grass-court masterclass in her first ever Grand Slam main draw match. This time last year, the Pole announced that she was taking an indefinite break from the sport due to depression. But her beguiling web of spins and slices was on top form to overcome Katerina Siniakova 6-0, 7-5 to notch her first career Top 100 win.
Chwalinska was unable to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set, but triumphed in a four-deuce final game, converting her third match point as a forehand slice elicited a Siniakova error.