London: Rafael Nadal made a stuttering but rousing return to the grass on Tuesday, beating 41st-ranked Francisco Cerundolo 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4 in Wimbledon's first round to begin his campaign for a third Grand Slam title of the year.
The 36-year-old second seed, who has not played at Wimbledon since 2019 and stayed away from warm-up tournaments with a chronic foot problem, looked to be motoring through the match until a series of unforced errors allowed Cerundolo, 23, back in.
The Argentine upped the tempo and used his booming forehand to overpower twice Wimbledon champion Nadal, who has won 20 other Grand Slam titles, taking the third set and breaking serve in the fourth.
But Nadal, who won the Australian Open in January and the French Open earlier this month, regrouped and used all his experience to fight back, breaking a now nervy opponent twice to seal the match to the delight of a packed Centre Court.
Swiatek makes it 36 in a row
From the red clay of the French Open to the green grass of Wimbledon, the wins keep coming for Iga Swiatek.
The top-seeded Pole won her opening match on Centre Court on Tuesday, beating Croatian qualifier Jana Fett 6-0, 6-3.
The victory was Swiatek's 36th in row and includes all seven matches she played at this year's French Open in winning her second title at Roland Garros. It's the longest winning streak on the women's tour since 1997, when Martina Hingis won 37.
It's my first match on grass this season, so I knew it's going to be tricky, Swiatek said on court.
I'm just figuring out how to play here and trying to implement all the stuff that we were practicing on.
Even with seven-time champion Serena Williams in the draw at the All England Club, Swiatek is the woman to beat. She won five tournaments before heading to Paris in May, earning consecutive titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome.
Swiatek, again wearing a pin with the colors of Ukraine on her hat, started out like she left off in her last match at the French Open. But she went down 3-1 in the second set before recovering.
The second set, at the beginning I lost my focus a little bit and she used that pretty well, Swiatek said.
Coco Gauff, who lost to Swiatek in this year's French Open final, also won her opening match. The 11th-seeded American beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Gauff got the go-ahead break in the third set at 5-5 on her sixth break point of the game when Ruse double-faulted.
In her two previous appearances at the All England Club, Gauff reached the fourth round.
Barbora Krejcikova, who won the French Open in 2021 to split Swiatek's two titles there, also advanced to the second round. The 13th-seeded Czech defeated Maryna Zanevska of Belgium 7-6 (4), 6-3.
No. 4 Paula Badosa, No. 5 Maria Sakkari, No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko and No. 33 Shuai Zhang of China also advanced.
Among the seeded player to lose was Olympic champion Belinda Bencic. The 14th-seeded Swiss player lost to Qiang Wang of China 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
No. 18 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, No. 20 Amanda Anisimova of the United States and No. 27 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan also lost.
In the men's draw, No. 18 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria retired from his match with an apparent injury. He was leading Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 2-5 when he stopped.
No. 15 Reilly Opelka of the United States, No. 19 Alex De Minaur of Australia, No. 29 Jenson Brooksby of the United States, No. 31 Sebastian Baez of Argentina and unseeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia also won.