Conchita Martinez, the only former Wimbledon champion in the women's field, cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory today in her opening match against Karina Habsudova.
The 10th-seeded Martinez, who won the title three years ago, needed only 58 minutes to dispose of Habsudova, a Slovak who hasn't made it past the first round at Wimbledon since 1991.Other than nine-time champion Martina Navratilova and seven-time champion Steffi Graf, Martinez is the only player to have won the women's title in the past 15 years. But the Spaniard's ranking has slipped to 11th in the world after going a year without a tournament victory.
Another women's seed to advance on the second day of the tournament was Germany's Anke Huber. The No. 7 seed scored a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Japan's Haruka Inoue.
Of the big matches today, two three-time men's champions, Pete Sampras and Boris Becker, began their bids for a fourth title.
Sampras, who won three times in a row before losing to eventual titlist Richard Krajicek in last year's quarterfinals, faced Sweden's Mikael Tillstrom. Becker, champion in 1985, '86 and '89, met Spain's Marcos Aurelio Gorriz.
Top women's seed Martina Hingis also was in action against qualifier Anne Kremer of Luxembourg. In her two appearances at Wimbledon, Hingis has not reached the quarterfinal although she became the youngest ever titlist last year when she won the women's doubles with Helena Sukova at 15 years and 282 days.
But she is the strong favorite to win the title this year especially in the absence of Graf, who is recovering from knee surgery.
Iva Majoli, who won the French title two weeks ago, said she felt just as elated by winning her first match on the Wimbledon grass Monday.
She didn't have a trophy to collect this time. But the 19-year-old Croatian grinned excitedly, raised her arm in triumph and soaked up the applause of the fans.
It was her first ever win on the famous grass courts of Wimbledon.
"It's my first victory so I was really excited," Majoli said after her 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 triumph over Argentina's Mariana Diaz Oliva. "When I won this match I was almost as happy as when I won the French Open. It was like relief."
Majoli's match was one of many held up by rain delays on day one of the championship.
On the Centre Court, the duel of the two fastest servers in the game, Greg Rusedski and No. 7 seed Mark Philippoussis, was going the way of the unseeded British left-hander, who led the Australian 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (8-6), 3-1 when play was halted by darkness.
Rusedski, who had not even allowed Philippoussis a break point in 14 service games, was serving for a 4-1 lead when play resumed.
Another match to finish was the matchup of 1991 champion Michael Stich against 1993 runner-up Jim Courier, both unseeded this time. Stich led 7-6 (7-0), 1-2 when they resumed on Court One.
Defending men's champion Richard Krajicek looked impressive in a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4 victory Monday over Germany's Marcello Craca, serving 19 aces.
And No. 2 seed Goran Ivanisevic fired 24 aces in his 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Romania's Dinu Pescariu. Britain's Tim Henman won the first match to be played on the new 11,000 capacity No. 1 Court, downing Canada's Daniel Nestor 7-6 (13-11), 6-1, 6-4.