Defending Ladies' singles champion Angelique Kerber solved the problem of the Tatjana Maria forehand slice as she began her Wimbledon title defence with a straight-sets win on Centre Court even as French Open men's singles finalist Dominic Thiem crashed out at the first hurdle against Sam Querrey on Tuesday.
An all-German battle juxtaposed the conventional game of left-hander Kerber with the peculiar sight of Maria repeatedly swishing squash shots across the net, often drawing unusual spin and swerve.
Kerber broke serve seven times, but the 31-year-old was outfoxed on her own delivery four times while battling to a 6-4 6-3 first-round victory.
Although born just five months apart, compatriots Kerber and Maria have barely encountered each other on court.
Their one previous meeting came on clay in qualifying at Barcelona in 2009, and went Maria's way, yet that was hardly a gauge of how this match would run.
Kerber landed her third grand slam singles title last year at Wimbledon, surprising many with the way she soundly beat Serena Williams in the final.
She has not won a title since but a run to the Eastbourne final last week, despite losing out to Karolina Pliskova for the trophy, appeared to bode well for this fortnight.
The first set was wrapped up with a terrific lob on the run, and Kerber made sure of the win with a powerful two-handed backhand down the line that Maria could only jab wide.
In the closing stages an entertaining rally had seen Kerber play a gratuitous exhibition shot between her legs, only to be trumped by a stop volley from Maria.
It was that sort of match, unpredictable in all areas but for the outcome.
Thiem has finished runner-up at Roland Garros in each of the last two years but his record at the All England Club is far less impressive and he bowed out 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 6-0 on Tuesday.
The fifth seed also departed Wimbledon in the first round 12 months ago and has just a sole ATP Tour title on grass: the Stuttgart Open in 2016.
Querrey was beaten by countryman Taylor Fritz in the Nature Valley International final last week but bounced back to defeat Thiem on Court No.2.
The American will play Cristian Garin or Andrey Rublev next, while Thiem follows Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the third top-10 player to be eliminated.
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