Wimbledon, England: Olympic tennis became deafening Sunday. Under Wimbledon's roof, the sound of pelting rain nearly drowned out Maria Sharapova's piercing shrieks.
The event moved indoors for the first time since the 1912 Games, and Sharapova made her Olympic debut amid a din, beating Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-0.
"You hear a little bit of it, but it's not a big distraction," Sharapova said. "When you see the schedule and you see your name on Centre Court, you know that your match is going to get done. Knowing what the weather forecast was going to be like today, I was pretty happy."
Play on other courts was curtailed because of rain, with 32 matches postponed before they started and four suspended in progress.
Only 12 matches were completed. One took place on Court 1, where 2008 bronze medalist Novak Djokovic endured two long delays en route to a win over Fabio Fognini of Italy, 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-2.
Other winners under Centre Court's retractable cover were Julia Goerges of Germany, who upset recent Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, British hopeful Andy Murray and No 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
There were no issues regarding rain at the 1912 Stockholm Games, played in a pavilion on wood courts painted black. This time the surface is grass, where Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title in 2004 at age 17.
Sharapova completed a career slam last month by winning the French Open, and now hopes to add an Olympic medal. She missed the 2008 Games because of a shoulder injury.
"It took many years to get here, so it's pretty special," she said.
Sharapova carried the Russian flag in London's opening ceremony, and also visited the athletes village, where she said she underestimated her celebrity.
"The biggest mistake I've made in a long time was entering the cafeteria," she said with a laugh. "I didn't walk out eating any food; I barely got an orange juice. It was quite funny. I didn't sign any autographs; it was just pictures. I felt like a little statue. Everyone was coming up and asking for a picture politely.
"I have so many events I go to and people ask for pictures. But I've never been so happy to take pictures."
Against Peer, the No 3-seeded Sharapova served well, returned aggressively and swept the final eight games. She improved to 7-0 against Peer.
"I've certainly been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl, so it was nice to get a win in my first Olympic match," she said.
Djokovic's match started after a delay of nearly three hours, and the score was 7-all in the tiebreaker when rain forced another three-and-half-hour interruption.
When play resumed, Djokovic lost the first two points — and as a result, the set.
"I haven't played an official match since Wimbledon, so it took me a set and a half to really get into the rhythm," said Djokovic, seeded No 2. "Obviously the rain delay affected the game, and I wasn't sharp enough after the rain delay."
He dominated the final two sets, however, and committed only one unforced error in the final set.
There were no signs of rustiness from Goerges, who hit 20 aces to beat No 2 seed Radwanska 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
"I felt pretty great there," said Goerges, ranked 24th. "My game is to be aggressive, and I know that doesn't suit her pretty well because she's one who wants to create a little bit of angles to play clever on the court."
Goerges hit a deft drop shot to hold for a 5-4 lead in the final set, then broke serve in the last game, whacking a return winner on the first match point. That ended medal hopes in singles for Radwanska, who is playing doubles with her sister.
Less than four weeks ago at Wimbledon, Radwanska became the first Polish player to reach a Grand Slam final since 1939, then lost to Serena Williams.
No 3 seed Murray returned to the court where he lost the Wimbledon men's final and beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-3, 6-3. Murray also defeated Wawrinka in the first full match under the roof, played at Wimbledon in 2009.
Postponed were singles matches involving three-time gold medalist Venus Williams, No 1 seed Victoria Azarenka and Andy Roddick. Also pushed to Monday were doubles matches involving the 2008 gold medal teams, the Williams sisters and Federer-Wawrinka.
The postponements mean Venus and Azarenka would have to play six consecutive days if they reach the women's final on Saturday.
Published Date: Jul 30, 2012 10:49 am | Updated Date: Jul 30, 2012 10:49 am