LONDON – Last year’s runners-up were up first on the main showcourts at Wimbledon on Tuesday, and both came through in straight sets.
Angelique Kerber, playing in the spot on Centre Court normally reserved for the defending women’s champion, beat Irina Falconi of the United States 6-4, 6-4. On No. 1 Court, Milos Raonic defeated Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (4).
“A lot of memories came back when I walk on the Centre Court,” Kerber said. “Playing there again, it’s one of the best courts to play. It’s traditional, so it was really great to being back.”
Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion at the All England Club, didn’t even need three sets to advance. He reached the second round when opponent Martin Klizan retired from the match in the second set.
Kerber stepped in to the opening spot on Centre Court on Day 2 in place of Serena Williams, the defending champion who is out for the rest of the season because she is pregnant.
Although Kerber became the first women seeded No. 1 in the professional era to lose in the first round of the French Open, she made it through to the second round on the grass.
“Playing first rounds in Grand Slams are always tough, especially with my first-round match that I lost in Paris,” Kerber said. “I was actually just thinking about point by point, trying to finding my rhythm during the whole match.”
Djokovic followed on Centre Court, leading 6-3, 2-0 when Klizan stopped because of injury. The second-seeded Serb was leading 30-0 in the third game of the second.
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., came into Wimbledon after playing only one match on grass, a first-round loss at Queen’s. The last time he failed to win a match on grass prior to Wimbledon, in 2014, he reached the semifinals.
Last year he did even better than that, reaching the final at the All England Club and losing to Andy Murray in straight sets.
Juan Martin del Potro needed seven match points, but he also advanced, beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 (2), 6-4.
Other winners include 2015 Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza among the women, and 15th-seeded Gael Monfils among the men.
Later Tuesday, Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil was scheduled to play eighth-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria and Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., was to open against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova.