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London 2012 Olympics: Elena Baltacha beats Agnes Szavay





By Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 10:39 EST, 28 July 2012 | UPDATED: 11:39 EST, 28 July 2012

 

Elena Baltacha got Great Britain's tennis players off to a winning start in their Olympic campaign by overpowering Hungary's Agnes Szavay in the first round of the women's singles at a sunny Wimbledon.

The 28-year-old was always in control against an opponent who has been plagued by injury problems over the past year as she claimed a 6-3, 6-3 win in just over an hour.

The British No 4 broke serve twice in the first set and, after saving a break point in the opening game of the second, made a decisive move in the eighth game before closing out victory on her first match point.

Off to a flyer: Elena Baltacha was in fine form as she beat Agnes Szavay

Off to a flyer: Elena Baltacha was in fine form as she beat Agnes Szavay

Baltacha said: 'Very good start, delighted with that. I think for a first round match, I'm very happy with how I played. I'm chuffed to be in the second round now.

'I was quite nervous before the match. I think once I put my GB gear on, it relaxed me more because I've been looking forward to this for such a long time.'

Szavay does not currently have a world ranking such has been the extent of her back problems and she was simply not strong enough to live with Baltacha's power from the back of the court.

The world No 102 was also playing far from fully fit, though, with her right shin heavily strapped to relieve the pressure on an ankle problem.

Brushed aside: Hungary's Agnes Szavay

Brushed aside: Hungary's Agnes Szavay

The Scot plans to take six months off after the Olympics - pre US Open - to have surgery, definitely on her right ankle and possibly on her left as well.

She said: 'They told me at some point I'll need to have surgery because basically the bone has grown an extra bit of bone.

'It just needs a little extra bit of shaving. They found a loose body in my ankle. I've actually got it in my left foot as well, but not as severe.

'I am thinking of having surgery very soon on it. We're talking about taking six months and having the surgery done.

'It's not a serious surgery, it's pretty straightforward. I know that at some point I need to have it done.

'I would maybe ask about having the left one done as well, if there's a chance the left one would get worse as well. Probably be smarter if I get two done.'

Baltacha insists it is not causing her too much discomfort when playing, though.

'It's manageable, it's not terrible,' she said.

Kim Clijsters' first taste of Olympic action lasted little more than an hour as she saw off Italy's Roberta Vinci to reach the second round.

London is both a Games debut and swansong for Belgian Clijsters, who will retire for the second time after the US Open in a month's time.

She has struggled with injuries this season and was hampered by an abdominal strain at Wimbledon three weeks ago, where she crashed out in the fourth round to Angelique Kerber.

But she looked in very good form, racing through the first set and then edging out Vinci in a closer second to win 6-1, 6-4 and become the first singles victor of the Olympics.

Clijsters is relishing the chance to compete at the Games and was very happy with her form against Vinci.

Impressive: Kim Clijsters is through to the second round of the singles

Impressive: Kim Clijsters is through to the second round of the singles

She said: 'It's a great feeling knowing that I'm here because there were moments in the last year-and-a-half where I definitely thought about retiring and not even getting to the Olympics.

'So I'm happy that I stuck with it and that I kept working hard. I'm happy that I'm healthy and that I got to play a good match in the first round.

'I still feel that whenever I step out on court and I feel good physically, if I play good tennis, I can beat a lot of good players. With that attitude, I'll go until I play my last match. That's a good attitude. It's something that I need to have.'

Guest of honour: United States first lady Michelle Obama watched Serena Williams at Wimbledon

Guest of honour: United States first lady Michelle Obama watched Serena Williams at Wimbledon

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams returned to Centre Court three weeks after winning her fifth title at the All England Club, and she had an illustrious name in her box in the form of US First Lady Michelle Obama.

Williams had a potentially tricky draw against former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia but she went into the match on a run of 11 straight victories and ran out a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 winner. 

Jankovic's countrywoman Ana Ivanovic fared better, the 11th seed defeating talented young American Christina McHale 6-4, 7-5.

Williams, who next meets Poland's Urszula Radwanska, was inspired by her esteemed guest and gave the First Lady a thumbs-up at the end of her match.

Going strong: Serena Williams is safely through to the second round of the singles

Going strong: Serena Williams is safely through to the second round of the singles

'They asked me did I mind if she sat in the family box,' said Williams. 'I was like, "Of course not. Please, it would be my honour." I love Michelle, so it was good.

'I gave her a thumbs-up just to acknowledge that I knew she was here. Obviously it was impossible not to see her but it was cool.'

Two of last year's grand slam champions are already out of the tournament, with fifth seed Stosur and 11th seed Li Na both losing.

Australian Stosur went down in an epic against Carla Suarez Navarro, the Spaniard winning 3-6, 7-5, 10-8, while China's Li was beaten 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 by Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.


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