Rafael Nadal made a swift and successful transition from clay to grass as he cruised to a straight-sets, first-round win over Israel’s Dudi Sela at Wimbledon.
The 32-year-old Spanish second seed was competing for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title in June but showed no sign of rust on a sultry Centre Court as he bagged a 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over his 127th-ranked opponent.
Nadal relentlessly produced his best work in exhilarating exchanges to sprint to lead by a set and a break after 40 minutes.
Sela offered little resistance and the writing was on the wall when Nadal unleashed a whipped lasso-like forehand to move two sets clear.
Nadal has often struggled to get off to a solid start at Wimbledon and fell at the fourth round stage to Giles Muller last year.
But this was a more confident Nadal as he opened up a 4-1 third set cushion with a determined volley en route to closing out the match in one hour and 50 minutes.
Nadal is looking to emulate his 2008 and 2011 feats when he won the Wimbledon title fresh from triumphing in Paris.
The man Nadal beat in Paris last month – Dominic Thiem, has had his Wimbledon campaign cut short in the first round as he retired with an apparent back injury while trailing Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.
The Austrian was sprawled on his stomach on Court Two as he received a deep-tissue back massage from the trainer before the start of the third set.
The trainer then rolled the seventh seed on to his back to manipulate Thiem’s shoulders but the intervention failed to have the desired affect as he called it quits after losing the next two games.
Baghdatis was leading 6-4 7-5 2-0 when Thiem retired.
Meanwhile Garbine Muguruza began the defence of her Wimbledon title with a straight-sets victory over Britain’s Naomi Broady.
The Spaniard was the queen of Centre Court in 2017, beating Venus Williams in the final, and she enjoyed her return with a 6-2 7-5 success over the British number four.
She made slightly hard work of it in the second set, but eventually got the job done in an hour and 30 minutes.
Two breaks of serve were enough as Muguruza barely broke sweat in the opening set, with Broady unable to match her precision.
Broady, once Britain’s No.2, showed resistance in the second set as she was determined to extend her stay on the main show court.
But there was a sense of inevitability about Muguruza breaking at 6-5, and she did to love, as she booked her place in the second round.
It wasn’t such a bright start for two-time former champion Petra Kvitova, the eighth seed slumped out of Wimbledon in the first round, beaten by inspired world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4 4-6 6-0.
Kvitova, who withdrew from the Eastbourne tournament last week with a hamstring injury, appeared to be moving well but looked pale and drawn particularly in the first set.