Fresh off of his latest French Open victory, Rafael Nadal opened his Wimbledon title defense with a convincing victory over Michael Russell while the Spaniard's parents watched from the Royal Box on Monday.
The victory, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, was a worthy performance from the top-ranked player in the world to begin the 125th edition of the championships. In keeping with tradition, the defending men's champion played the first match on Centre Court at the All England Club.
Nadal, coming off his sixth straight French Open title and 10th overall Grand Slam championship, double faulted to go down a break 4-2 in the first set against the 91st-ranked Russell. But Nadal buckled down, ran off six straight games to take the set and go up a break in the second.
He was in command the rest of the way against the 33-year-old American.
"I started so-so in the first set, but after that I start to hit very well the forehand and I think I finished playing a very good level," Nadal said.
The two players shared a laugh after Russell successfully challenged what had been ruled an ace by Nadal on match point. Nadal won the next point, though, to finish the match in just under two hours.
It was the first time Nadal has walked onto Centre Court as defending champion. After winning the title for the first time in 2008, he missed the tournament the following year with a knee injury.
"Fantastic," he said. "Seriously, I never played in a court like this. (It) was a big emotion to be the first player to play in this fabulous court. It was a very, very exciting feeling."
Watching from the Royal Box were Nadal's parents, Sebastián and Ana María.
"Too many beautiful things to see my mom and my dad in the Royal Box,'" Nadal said. "I think for them (it) was a great experience. So, everything in general was very, very nice today."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.