French Open runner-up and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas became the highest-profile exit on day one at Wimbledon – losing in straight sets to Frances Tiafoe to continue a miserable record on grass.
The 22-year-old world No 4 from Athens, beaten by Novak Djokovic in his first Grand Slam final at the French Open just a few weeks ago, has a dismal record on grass and had opted against playing in any of the warm-up events.
In contrast, Tiafoe won the Challenger Tour event in Nottingham and reached the last eight at Queen’s, and his reward was a brilliant straight-sets victory which blows open the top half of the draw.
“It happened. I think believing it when nobody else does is so big.”
Tsitsipas was world No 1 Djokovic’s seeded semi-final opponent, but he was broken in the opening game of the contest and it was enough for Tiafoe to claim the first set.
A decisive break in the ninth game of the second was consolidated when he served out for a 2-0 lead and despite a couple of fleeting glimpses of Tsitsipas’ best there was to be no comeback as Tiafoe dumped the 2019 ATP Finals winner out at the first hurdle.
“Once I saw the draw coming out, these are matches I actually love,” Tiafoe said.
“I think a lot of guys in the tennis community know that. I play great tennis against high-calibre players. I’ve beaten high-calibre players. The minimum I want to do is at least give myself a chance to win. I did.”
Twenty-three-year-old Tiafoe – whose best showing in the majors is a quarter-final in Australia in 2019 – will next face Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the second round.
The biggest win of his career 🙌
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 28, 2021
Among the other seeded names to crash out on the opening day – when the rain finally relented and allowed play on the outside courts to get going around four hours later than scheduled – was Jannik Sinner.
The highly-rated Italian was seeded 19th for the Championships, the first time he has played in the main draw, and was expected to go far, but Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics had other ideas as he recovered from losing the first set to win the next three and send the 19-year-old packing 5-7 6-3 7-5 6-3.
Thirtieth-seed Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina had been Djokovic’s seeded opponent for the third round but he was beaten 5-7 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-3 by American qualifier Denis Kudla who will now face veteran Italian Andreas Seppi.
The 37-year-old is playing in his 15th Wimbledon and was too strong for Portugal’s Joao Sousa, winning 4-6 6-4 7-5 6-2.
Big-serving Reilly Opelka also crashed out, the 6ft 11in American was surprisingly beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 by Dominik Koepfer.
Fifth-seed Andrey Rublev was a 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 winner over Federico Delbonis, while eighth-seed Roberto Bautista Agut also needed four sets to beat John Millman 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4), while 25th-seed Karen Khachanov also moved into the last 64 – another to come from a set down to advance with a 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory over Mackenzie McDonald.