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New kids take first steps on big stage

Paula Kania hits a backhand
by William Denny
Monday 23 June 2014

Poland's Paula Kania enjoyed a competitive  debut on The Championships biggest stage as she faced No.2 seed Li Na on Centre Court. Kania held a surprise break in the opening exchanges although the three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist fought back to claim the set 7-5.

“I really enjoyed playing on Centre Court,” said the world No.175. “I did my best but I just couldn’t take my chances. It hurts a bit and maybe it is a little disappointing that for the first round I get such a tough opponent. When you are leading 5-3 and are serving for the set, you are so close but I am happy because it was a good experience and a step forward.”

Kania was unable to prevent a much-improved Li from breaking serve four times in the second set, eventually falling to a 7-5, 6-2 defeat. However, Kania said she was pleased with her maiden Wimbledon outing. “I was playing good tennis from the beginning and I think a lot of people were wondering if I would be stressed or nervous but I was calm and cool so I could take my chances in the beginning,” she said.

“I know that my level is there but I would say just to be more solid and get the key points but I am still working and hopefully, soon, I will be there.”

Also in action on Day one was Ana Konjuh, semi-finalist at the Junior Championships last year, who toppled world No.68 Marina Erakovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

The 16-year-old Croatian claimed seven of eight  break points while almost doubling her opponent’s winners with 33.

The most impressive period for the former Junior US and Australian Open champion came in the deciding set, as she blew her opponent away with 13 winners and 100 per cent net points converted before Erakovic’s tame backhand sealed the win.

On Court 11, Australian qualifier Luke Saville reached the second round after an entertaining 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over fellow qualifier Dominic Thiem. “I’ve got great memories from here, I won the Wimbledon Juniors in 2011 and made the final in 2012 and I know grass really does suit my game. It is just very exciting right now; I can’t really put it into words,” he said.

“I’ve been doing a lot of hard work over the past few years and it hasn’t necessarily paid off for me so this is a real testament to my hard work and also for the team around me who have been doing a great job.”

Elsewhere, Slovenia’s Blaz Rola progressed with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 win over world No.80 Pablo Andujar while Pablo Carreno Busta pushed David Ferrer to four sets.

Among the debutants in action on Day Two will be former Wimbledon Junior Doubles Champion Nick Krygios, American Taylor Townsend and 17-year-old Belinda Bencic.

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