Wimbledon: Goffin and Tsonga down Australians
There was no Cliff Richard, despite the first rain delays of the tournament yesterday, but the crowd on the new Court Two were treated to "The Young Ones" as Bernard Tomic, the 19-year-old 20th seed who is regarded as the world's best teenager, was beaten in four sets by David Goffin, a 21-year-old Belgian who was making his Wimbledon debut.
Last year the Australian became the youngest player since Boris Becker 25 years earlier to reach the quarter-finals, where he took a set off the eventual champion, Novak Djokovic. Yesterday he won a commanding first set 6-3 but lost his way in the second. After conceding it 6-3 and being broken at the start of the third, he received a warning for racket abuse. Goffin held on to that break to take the set 6-4 and the fourth set went the same way, with an early break and an identical outcome. He set up two match points with an ace and won it when Tomic put a weary-looking forehand wide.
It was a match full, in its earlier stages, of deuce games and long baseline rallies – one of which reached 32 strokes – and when either man tried to break it up with a drop shot or a chip they tended to fail.
Tomic appeared to be struggling with a back problem later but he insisted that he had "no excuse" and overall Goffin (below) made fewer errors and deserved his first grass-court success at this level. The Belgian came to the notice of British tennis followers by winning a decisive Davis Cup rubber against Josh Goodall in Glasgow this year and, after reaching the round of 16 as a lucky loser at the French Open, he is one to watch.
Tomic will find his world ranking, 28, dropping sharply, based as it was to large degree on last year's quarter-final appearance. Trying to make the best of a bad day, he said: "It's a good thing what's actually happened here. I'll wake up and get back to the way I was playing."
It turned out to be a bad day for the group of Australian camp followers known as the Fanatics, who preferred to watch their old hero, Lleyton Hewitt, go down in straight sets to the fifth seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. That meant that there will be no Australian in the second round for the first time in more than 70 years.
It is fully 10 years since Hewitt won the title here and, after a year beset by injury, he is down to No 202 in the world. Reluctant to come to the net these days, he found Tsonga simply too powerful. Many people do, including even Roger Federer, who was improbably beaten in the quarter-final last year after leading the big Frenchman by two sets to love. Unconcerned by a lingering finger injury, Tsonga thundered down 21 aces – one of them at 137mph – on his way to claiming victory in just under two hours.
"It's probably as good as I could have done today," Hewitt said. "He served too well."
Hewitt will be back; he learnt as he walked off court that he has been given a wild card for the Olympic singles here, after being left out of the doubles tournament.
Beyond that he would not look, saying: "We'll have to wait and see. At the moment I've been focusing on getting back this year and doing everything right with my foot and my rehab."
They were holding the back page in Sao Paulo and maybe the front as well when a scoreboard 6,000 miles away indicated that Thomaz Bellucci, a Brazilian who is ranked 78th in the world, was leading the world No 2, Rafael Nadal, 4-0 in the first set.
It did not last. Nadal drew level and then raced through the tie-break to love. By midway through the second set, and despite the Brazilian's brave decision to fight fire with some of his own, the Spaniard had consolidated his grip and the result was 7-6, 6-2, 6-3, all finished off with an ace.
Bellucci is a six-footer with a big serve and like Nadal a left-hander. He was seeded last year but lost in the first round. He boosted his confidence with a couple of aces to win the opening game and he then broke in the second and fourth as Nadal totted up the unforced errors.
"Probably I have to improve a lot for the next round," said Nadal. "I had more mistakes than usual at the beginning and was very lucky to come back from four-love [down]."
He also criticised the decision to play the Olympic tournament as the best of three sets. "Everybody can beat everybody," he said, "playing the best of three on grass. The match can be decided on just a few points."
Feliciano Lopez of Spain, the 14th seed, was a casualty, beaten 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 by Finland's Jarkko Nieminen. The American 10th seed, Mardy Fish, beat Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo of Spain 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.
Nicolas Mahut of France completed a victory against Italy's Paolo Lorenzi in five sets – he will at least be spared a repeat of his record-breaking 2010 marathon against the American John Isner. The 11th seed was knocked out on Monday.