Federer wins opener

Wimbledon, June 25:

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 a record equaling fifth consecutive Wimbledon title beating Russia’s Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Also, Andy Roddick, the third seed, beat fellow American Justin Gimelstob 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) to reach the round. Roddick now plays either Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke or Carlos Berlocq of Argentina for a place in the third round.

It was Federer’s 49th consecutive grass-court win and 29th straight at Wimbledon, a streak dating back to 2003. With six more wins over the next two weeks, he would become the first player to win five straight championships since Bjorn Bjorg in 1976-80.

As is so often the case at Wimbledon, the tournament began in wet weather, with play getting under way after a rain delay of about 2 hours, 40 minutes.

In keeping with tradition, Federer was the first player to walk onto Centre Court as defending men’s champion. He did it in style, wearing a white customized dinner-style jacket — similar to the cream-colored model he donned last year — with a gold crest on the breast pocket and retro long white trousers.

Federer took off the jacket and warmed up with a white sweater vest and the long pants before getting straight down to business — firing a service winner down the middle on the first point. He was never troubled by the 85th-ranked Gabashvili, who was making his Wimbledon debut and had won only one previous grass-court match. Federer finished with 33 winners and 13 unforced errors. He broke the Russian four times and saved the only break point against him.

In the women’s draw, Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand slumped out in the first round against 16th seed Shahar Peer of Israel 7-5, 6-2.