Defending champion marks return to Grand Slam tennis by beating Arvane Rezai in three sets after a year out.
|Hewitt looks back at the court after failing to put away Soderling at two sets up [GALLO/GETTY]|
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic fired to an emphatic win over South African Kevin Anderson in the second round at Wimbledon as Serena Williams came through a tough start against Simona Halep.
With scattered showers predicted the Centre Court’s roof was closed for the opening match between 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt and fifth seed Robin Soderling.
In a marathon contest, Soderling recovered from two sets down to beat Hewitt 6-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
The fifth-seeded Swede was in deep trouble as Hewitt took the first two sets, pulling off a spectacular diving backhand passing shot to break for 5-3 in the second set.
Soderling worked his way back into the match and Hewitt put a backhand into the net to hand the two-time French Open finalist victory.
No Paris hangover
Men’s world number two Djokovic may struggle to match the 41 consecutive victories with which he began the year before losing in the French Open semi-final, but his form so far suggests no hangover from his Paris loss to Roger Federer.
After scorching into a 5-0 lead after 15 minutes on Thursday he routinely dispatched the towering Anderson 6-3 6-4 6-2.
Defending women’s champion Williams dispensed with the tears as she reached the third round with an ultimately easy victory over Romanian teenager Simona Halep.
The 29-year-old, who wept after beating Aravane Rezai on Tuesday as the emotional turmoil of a horrendous 11 months caught up with her, eventually found her A-game in a 3-6 6-2 6-1 victory on Court Two.
Several other seeds prospered as the fourth day began under bright sunshine with just a few scattered showers to worry the organisers, who have battled fickle weather so far.
Sixth seed Francesca Schiavone, one of seven Grand Slam champions in the draw, beat Barbora Zahlavova 7-5 6-3 on her 31st birthday.
She was joined in the last 32 by another former French Open champion, Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic, who breezed past Greek wildcard Eleni Daniilidou 6-3 6-0.
Russian 12th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who despite her powerful game and titles at the US Open and French Open has never shone at Wimbledon, crushed Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru.
French Open champion Li Na is second up on Centre against Germany’s Sabine Lisicki with men’s six-times champion Roger Federer providing the evening show when he takes on Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.