Stephens, Stosur out; Murray rolls at Wimbledon


LONDON -- Sloane Stephens' streak of reaching the second week at six consecutive Grand Slam tournaments ended Monday at Wimbledon, onetime US Open champ Sam Stosur got knocked out and defending men's champ Andy Murray started his fortnight with a convincing win.

Maria Kirilenko of Russia, ranked 109th in the world, beat Stephens 6-2, 7-6 (6) the first round.

Stephens saved five match points serving at 5-6, sending it to a tiebreaker where Kirilenko clinched the match after a wide forehand by Stephens.

"It feels like the end of the world now, but fortunately it's not," Stephens said, shaking her head. "So that's a good thing. You've just got to go back and keep working."

An American seeded 18th, Stephens had held the longest active run of fourth-round appearances at majors by a woman, dating to a semifinal showing at the 2013 Australian Open. At Wimbledon last year, Stephens got to the quarterfinals, where she lost to eventual champion Marion Bartoli. Coming into Monday, Stephens' career record in Grand Slam matches was 31-12, while she was 55-54 everywhere else.

Stosur lost her first-round match at Wimbledon on Monday, beaten 6-3, 6-4 by former U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer. The loss continued the Australian's poor run at Wimbledon, where she has never advanced past the third round and where she has lost in the first round six times in her 12 appearances at the All England club. Second-seeded Li Na of China advanced to the second round with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Paula Kania of Poland. Five-time champion Venus Williams won her first singles match at Wimbledon since 2011 with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain.

"I've come back so many times from injuries," said Williams, who served 11 aces. "I just feel like the more I keep playing, the better I get."

Former women's No. 1 Victoria Azarenka won her first match in five months, defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 7-5. The eighth-seeded Azarenka, a two-time semifinalist at the All England Club, made her return at Eastbourne last week following the long layoff with a left foot injury. She lost in the first round at the Wimbledon warm-up event.

Murray came onto Centre Court to a standing ovation and walked off to another after a straight-set victory against David Goffin. In keeping with tradition, Murray had the honor of playing the opening match on Centre Court as the defending men's champion -- and he looked right at home in beating the 105th-ranked Belgian 6-1, 6-4, 7-5. Last year, Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. Now he's bidding to become the first to retain the title since Fred Perry in 1936.

"It was nice," Murray said. "I was nervous this morning, nervous yesterday. Walking through brings back a lot of good memories. I got a nice round of applause and once you sit down in a chair it's time to get ready for this year and move on from last year."

Among those in the Royal Box for the occasion were Murray's father and grandparents and retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, dressed in suit and tie. Murray chatted briefly with the 7-foot-1 (2.16-meter) Shaq after the match.

"He's a big boy, that's for sure," Murray said. "He was huge."

Among other winners on a cloudy opening day was sixth-seeded and 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, who beat Victor Hanescu 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. No. 12 Ernests Gulbis and No. 17 Mikhail Youzhny also advanced. Top-seeded Novak Djokovic easily advanced with a 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 win over Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.

But 18th-seeded Fernando Verdasco fell to Australia's Marinko Matosevic, losing 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.


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