LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) - Angelique Kerber enjoyed the honour of opening Centre Court proceedings on Tuesday in the absence of title holder Serena Williams and, while she looked far from her best, she reached the Wimbledon second round with a 6-4 6-4 win over Irina Falconi.
The German world number one, a first round loser at the French Open just five weeks ago, has been struggling to recapture the form that carried her into three grand slam finals in 2016.
However, Kerber, who won two of those majors and finished runner up to Williams at the All England Club last July, ensured she would not add her name to the list of Wimbledon top seeds to have perished in the opening round.
Instead, she survived the plucky challenge of American qualifier Falconi to register her first win at a grand slam tournament since bowing out in the fourth round at January’s Australian Open.
Falconi had her chances to chalk up her first win in five appearances at Wimbledon, breaking Kerber once in each set.
However, the world number 247’s lack of experience eventually caught up with her and a double fault handed Kerber two break points for a 5-4 lead in the second set.
The German converted the second and then finished with a flourish, holding to love to seal the match with a forehand winner.
Next up for her will be Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Lovell