It took just five hours before the tarps were rolled out at Wimbledon for the first time this fortnight, but long before this first rain delay the rejuvenated Alex Bogomolov of Miami, playing, surprisingly, his first Wimbledon at age 28, was showered and happily back at his hotel with his wife and baby son.
This is decidedly not the old Bogie — head in the clouds, married much too young at 21 to former Playboy model-slash-WTA personality Ashley Harkleroad, divorced two years later, and suspended for a month and a half in 2005 for ingesting, unknowingly, a banned substance through an asthma inhaler.
He’s a pretty deadly serious guy these days and arrived at Wimbledon with a personal-best ranking of No. 72, which will get even better after his 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over fellow American Donald Young. Not many are expecting Bogie to reach the third round with No. 25 Juan Ignacio Chela on the horizon, but who knows? Strange things happen when Bogomolov is around.
It wasn’t the most notable start to Wimbledon since rain is part of the, shall we say, Wimbledon charm. Number one Rafa Nadal soared into the second round with only 14 unforced errors (35 winners) against little Michael Russell of Houston, Venus Williams easily won her welcome-back-to-the-Slams first rounder over Akbul Amanmuradova, and a few Americans had a jolly good time.
* Mardy Fish of Los Angeles smacked 26 aces in 17 service games and never faced a break point in a straight-set win over Marcel Granollers. Very impressive serving with little dropoff between his first and second (average 120 mph on his first, 96 mph on his second).
* Milos Raonic, the heavy-hitting Canadian who bears close watching, hit 25 aces without a double fault and got 66 percent of his firsts win, defeating Marc Gicquel. He worries even the top-10 players, deeply.
* Tomas Berdych never faced a break point against Filippo Volandri.
* His ranking dropped to No. 113, Rainer Schuettler at age 35 and a former Wimbledon semifinalist had his best win a long time, topping Tomaz Bellucci. This is Schuettler’s 13th Wimbledon.
* Number two Vera Zvonareva had a longer than planned day, defeating young American Alison Riske by 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. Riske is ranked 115, works with coaching icon Dennis Van der Meer at Hilton Head, S.C.
* Six years ago, Anna Tatishvili, a Georgian who once and perhaps still does dream of becoming a naturalized American citizen, began training with Chris Evert at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton. She was talented and just oozed admiration for Chrissie, but the anticipated development never came. Now 21, she not only won her first Wimbledon match, but recorded her first Grand Slam win. She’s currently No. 118 with a chance to bust top-100. Maybe she was inspired because Chrissie is back at Wimbledon, working for ESPN.
* It was also a grand day for another Floridian — Ryan Sweeting, who at 23 has also done some major growing up. He was a surprise U.S. Open junior winner, unseeded, at 18, then enrolled at the University of Florida, where he got himself into some very typical immature college mischief that resulted in a team suspension and a much-needed tongue-lashing from his tough-love mother in Fort Lauderdale. On Monday, he came from two sets down to beat Pablo Andujar for his first Wimbledon win. He’s gone from reliance on his big serve and forehand to a more complete player and he’s having an excellent season. I wouldn’t fancy his chances in round two, however, against Nadal.
* Also: good win for Christina McHale, playing her first Wimbledon.
* And, finally, a word about one of my favorite players, Jill Craybas. She lost, but she deserves so many thanks from a grateful tennis nation for flying the flag all these years. She’s 37 now and this was her 11th Wimbledon and 48th Slam overall.
See you tomorrow.