WIMBLEDON, England – Returning to the court where she won her first Grand Slam championship a year ago, Petra Kvitova overcame a shaky start and a late rain delay Tuesday to open her Wimbledon title defense with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Akgul Amanmuradova.
The fourth-seeded Czech fell behind 3-0 and 4-1 in the first set on Centre Court before running off seven straight games to take command against the 96th-ranked player from Uzbekistan.
After Kvitova squandered a match point at 5-3 in the second set, play was suspended and the covers rolled onto the court — the first rain break of the tournament.
When play resumed half an hour later, it took just three minutes to wrap up the match. After Amanmuradova won the first two points to hold for 5-4, Kvitova closed out the match at love, hitting a service winner and two aces and forcing a backhand error.
"It was unbelievable to come back here as the defending champion," said Kvitova, who beat Maria Sharapova in last year's final. "In the beginning I think I was nervous — first match on the grass it's always difficult to know what you can expect. I had a lot of mistakes and then I tried to play my game and go forward."
The 6-foot-3 Amanmuradova pushed Kvitova with her big serve, but lacked the consistency on her ground strokes and has now lost in the first round of all five Wimbledon appearances.
Following Kvivota on Centre Court was second-seeded and two-time men's champion Rafael Nadal, who faced Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. They were to be followed by No. 4 Andy Murray against former top-10 player Nikolay Davydenko.
On Court 1, fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was paired against 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, who has slipped to 202nd in the rankings and needed a wild card to enter Wimbledon this year.
A day after her sister was eliminated on Court 2, four-time champion and sixth-seeded Serena Williams was playing on the same court against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Playing his first match since having a medical procedure on his heart, 10th-seeded Mardy Fish of the United States served 24 aces and beat Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo of Spain 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (1) to reach the second round.
The 30-year-old Fish, who reached the quarterfinals last year, hadn't played a competitive match in 2½ months after having an accelerated heartbeat. He played attacking, serve-and-volley tennis and piled up 63 winners against Ramirez-Hidalgo — at 34, the oldest man in the field.
In early women's play, No. 12 Vera Zvonareva completed a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Germany's Mona Barthel in a match that had been suspended by darkness at one set apiece on Monday.
Francesca Schiavone, the 24th-seeded Italian, came from behind to overcome 18-year-old British wild card Laura Robson 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, received medical treatment after the first set for an apparent muscle problem. She was down 2-3 and 0-40 in the second set but saved the three break points and turned the match around against the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion.
In a men's match between two rising stars of the game, 21-year-old Belgian wild card David Goffin — who reached the fourth round of the French Open and took a set off Roger Federer — rallied from a set down against 19-year-old Bernard Tomic to beat the 20th-seeded Australian, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.