Sloane Stephens exits Wimbledon after first round defeat to Donna Vekic
Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams both progress to second round on opening day
Last Updated: 02/07/18 8:20pm
US Open champion Sloane Stephens crashed out of Wimbledon after losing to Donna Vekic in the first round.
The world No 4, a former quarter-finalist at the All England Club, was unable to match the consistent hard-hitting by her Croatian opponent as Vekic won 6-1 6-3, eventually converting on her fourth match point.
Vekic, world No 55, suffered a second round exit to eventual semi-finalist Johanna Konta in a three set marathon last year and underlined her grass court potential with a mature display on Court 1 to book a second round meeting with Rebecca Peterson.
The first-round encounter appeared a stern test for Stephens, who reached the French Open final last month, and so it proved as the American was broken in three successive service games to lose the first set.
The second set was a tighter affair and it appeared as if Vekic had lost her momentum as she was broken in her opening service game to fall 2-0 behind but she quickly responded with back-to-back breaks to move 3-2 ahead.
Despite being broken for a second time Vekic continued to put pressure on Stephens from the baseline with her aggressive game style and despite failing to convert three match points she secured a deserved success after 71 minutes.
Caroline Wozniacki, fresh from winning the Eastbourne title on Saturday, sealed an emphatic 6-0 6-3 victory against Varvara Lepchenko in under an hour on Centre Court.
The Dane won the Australian Open, her maiden Grand Slam success, at the start of the year and comes into the event as one of the pre-tournament favourites, despite having never progressed past the fourth round at the All England Club.
Wozniacki, world No 2, breezed through the first set against the world No 97 American, who failed to hold serve throughout.
Lepchenko won her first game of the match at the start of the second set by breaking Wozniacki but the second seed quickly responded before a further break in the sixth game helped her ease to victory and a meeting with Ekaterina Makarova.
Meanwhile five-time champion Venus Williams avoided a third consecutive first-round exit at the Grand Slam stage this year as the ninth seed recovered from losing a first set tiebreak to reach the second round.
The 38-year-old, whose last major triumph came at Wimbledon 10 years ago, defeated Johanna Larsson 6-7 [7-3] 6-2 6-1 in two hours and eight minutes.
The world No 58 from Sweden threatened to cause a major surprise and earn her first victory at the All England Club in eight attempts after edging the opener.
Williams quickly upped her game to ease through the next two sets and reach the second round where she will next face Alexandra Dulgheru.
Madison Keys also made a winning start to her campaign as the 10th seed defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-2 while former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka also progressed with a 7-6 [7-4] 6-3 victory.
Magdalena Rybarikova was another seed to exit the tournament on the opening day as she lost to Romania's unseeded Sorana Cirstea.
The Slovakian, world No 19, reached the semi-finals last year and had reached the final at Nottingham earlier in the season but limped to a 7-5 6-3 defeat, in a match which saw her squander eight break point opportunities.
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