Federer opens in classic form

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Defending Wimbledon champion Roger Federer stretched to reach a shot from Teimuraz Gabashvili during their first-round match Monday at Wimbledon. (ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS ~ Associated Press)

The top seed swept his first match in his attempt for a fifth straight title.

WIMBLEDON, England -- Roger Federer came onto Centre Court at Wimbledon dressed like a player from a bygone era. He then played like his usual modern-day great self.

The top-ranked Swiss star began his bid for an Open era record-equaling fifth consecutive Wimbledon title Monday by beating Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on a cool and wet opening day at the All England Club.

Other winners included third-seeded Andy Roddick and two-time champion Serena Williams, who said she has been receiving treatment for a previously undisclosed hamstring problem.

It was Federer's 49th consecutive grass-court victory and 29th straight at Wimbledon, a streak dating to 2003. With six more victories over the next two weeks, he would become the first player to win five straight championships since Bjorn Bjorg in 1976 to 1980.

Switzerland's defending champion Roger Federer returns to Russia's Teimuraz Gabashvili, during their Men's Singles, first round match on Centre Court of the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Monday June 25, 2007. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **

"It was OK," Federer said. "I was pretty pleased with my performance. It was pretty solid. He played a decent match, so I had to come up with some decent shots once in a while."

The man Federer has beaten in two finals, third-seeded Andy Roddick, also got off to a strong start, beating fellow American Justin Gimelstob 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) on Court 1. Roddick served 16 aces, broke three times and never lost serve. Gimelstob is 0-6 this year since returning from back surgery.

In women's play, top-seeded Justine Henin beat Argentine qualifier Jorgelina Cravero 6-3, 6-0 to start her chase for a first Wimbledon title to complete a career Grand Slam. Seventh-seeded Williams, down 5-4 in the first set, won eight straight games to defeat Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 6-4, 6-0.

Williams, who was far from her best in the first set, has been bothered by a tight hamstring.

Former Wimbledon champion Martina Hingis overcame a big scare, saving two match points in the second set against 18-year-old British wild card Naomi Cavaday before taking nine straight games to win 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-0.

In the most compelling match of the day, Tim Henman and Carlos Moya were tied at 5-5 in the fifth set when play was called because of darkness. With the Centre Court crowd wildly rooting for local favorite Henman -- a four-time semifinalist playing in his 14th Wimbledon -- Moya saved four match points while serving at 4-5 in the fifth set. Both players agreed to stop and resume today.

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