Defending champion progresses after slow start

Petra Kvitova recovered from a sluggish start to make a winning start to the defence of her Wimbledon title.

Petra Kvitova recovered from a sluggish start to make a winning start to the defence of her Wimbledon title.

She earned a 6-4 6-4 victory from a match interrupted by the first showers of the fortnight.

The defending women’s champion made a nervy first-round start on Wimbledon’s Centre Court before taking the opening set against Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova.

With father Jiri and mother Pavla watching from the Royal Box, Kvitova savoured the occasion of returning to the scene where she beat Maria Sharapova 12 months ago to secure her first grand slam title.

Then came a stuttering beginning to the match, Kvitova dropping serve immediately. She took a while to react, with Amanmuradova’s consistent serving keeping her ahead to 4-2.

But then Kvitova’s extra class began to tell, and breaks in the seventh and ninth games turned the set around in her favour, with the 22-year-old Czech player taking it 6-4.

Kvitova asserted herself with a break of Amanmuradova's serve in the opening game of the second set, and held on her own delivery to win a sixth game in a row.

At six foot, Kvitova is among the taller players in the women’s game, but remarkably Amanmuradova has a height advantage of three inches over her.

She has never been able to make that count at Wimbledon though, losing in the first round in each of the last four years, having made her debut in 2008.

A rain delay of half an hour held up the players but Kvitova returned to play a love service game and clinch a second-round tussle against either Britain’s Elena Baltacha or Italian Karin Knapp.

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