Bouchard, Halep lose Wimbledon openers
A year ago at Wimbledon, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep met in a semi-final showcasing two of tennis' up-and-coming stars.
Bouchard was only 20, Halep 22. Bouchard won that matchup to reach a Grand Slam final in the sixth major tournament of her career, a month after Halep was the runner-up at the French Open.
Back at the All England Club yesterday, both women lost in the first round to opponents ranked outside the top 100. For Bouchard, also a semi-finalist at the Australian Open and French Open in 2014, it was the latest setback in a season full of them, including 12 losses in her past 14 matches.
huge learning process
"It's been a huge learning process to have great results and then have, you know, so much attention, then have bad results. Just learning about the ups and downs of life and tennis, how things won't always go perfectly, like I expect them to," said Bouchard, who said a torn abdominal muscle limited her practice time leading into the match.
"So it's really just been kind of eye-opening, a learning experience," she added, resting her chin on her right hand, then added with a laugh: "But I'm good for the learning experience to be over now."
Her 7-6 (3), 6-4 exit against 117th-ranked qualifier Ying-Ying Duan of China made the 12th-seeded Bouchard the first Wimbledon finalist to lose her opening match at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament the following year since Steffi Graf in 1994.
The No. 3-seeded Halep was treated by a trainer for a lost toenail late in the first set of what would become a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 defeat against 106th-ranked Jana Cepelova of Slovakia.
"I knew it would be a difficult tournament for me," Halep said, explaining that her confidence was low because of poor recent results. "But I didn't expect to lose in (the) first round."
Highly seeded players rarely do anticipate that sort of quick departure, of course, and four past Wimbledon champions in action yesterday all won in straight sets as the sun, unobstructed by clouds, brought the temperature to about 85 degrees (30?C).
Petra Kvitova, who beat Bouchard for the 2014 title, won 28 of 29 points on her serve - a double-fault in the final game was the lone blemish - in a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Kiki Bertens that required all of 35 minutes.
Roger Federer, who is looking for a record eighth title, beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. Two-time champion Rafael Nadal defeated Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, while Andy Murray secured a 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-4 opening round victory over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan on Centre Court.