Though rain abbreviated the opening day of Wimbledon 2011, we still had more than enough time to learn six new things.
1. Americans Like Grass -- In fairness, we knew this one before today. But Day 1 was a nice reminder of just how well suited the American style of play is to grass, and how much better Americans would likely be in the rankings if a larger part of the tennis calendar was on turf. American men only lost once to non-Americans on Day 1, with Michael Russell losing in straight sets to some dude named Rafael Nadal. American women also did well, with a routine win by Venus Williams and a tremendous upset of No. 28 Ekaterina Makarova by Christina McHale. Allison Riske also made a name for herself with a valiant effort in defeat, taking a set from 2010 runner-up and No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva in her 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 loss. With her aggressive and powerful game, Riske seems sure to find reward (I know, I know) at Wimbledon later in her career.
2. Depth Has Switched Brackets -- Ten and twenty years ago, more bagels were handed out in early round women's matches at grand slams than at the continental breakfast counter of a Best Western. But depth throughout the field seems to have arrived to the women's game, and at the same time left the men's. Of the three top sixteen seeds on the women's side who finished matches on Day 1, all three needed three sets to secure the win. On the men's side, of the six top sixteen seeds who finished matches, all but one of them won in straight sets. The only one to drop a set, No. 4 Andy Murray, compensating by winning his third and fourth sets by the score of 6-0.
3. Philipp Kohlschreiber Peaked Too Early -- When he won the big grass court event in Halle two weeks ago, the always dangerous Philipp Kohlschreiber entered the conversation for Wimbledon. Kohlschreiber wasn't considered a real threat to win the title, but he was definitely a dangerous floater, and was given pretty good odds of beating No. 10 Mardy Fish in the second round. That won't happen, though, because Kohlschreiber lost to the struggling Denis Istomin in the first round, falling to the Uzbek 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Istomin was a lowly 5-14 in 2011 heading into this match, and how Kohlschreiber managed to lose to him is not something I can begin to understand.
4. Alex Bogomolov Jr. Has Incredible Bounceback -- American Alex Bogomolov Jr. earned his first grand slam win since the 2006 Australian Open, beating fellow American Donald Young 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. The match was without the contentiousness of his previous grand slam victory, as Bogomolov opted to let his racquet fly instead of obscenities. And fly it did, right over the back fence.
5. Drawn And Quarterfinalisted -- Here's a weird stat from the women's draw that I doubt means much, but is still sort of cool: All three women whose best career run at a slam was to the quarterfinals who completed matches on Day 1 (Shahar Peer, Sorana Cirstea, Kaia Kanepi) lost. Wimbledon 2010 quarterfinalist Kanepi, the No. 17 seed, lost in especially spectacular fashion, winning only five games against Sara Errani.
6. Monday Showers Bring Tuesday Flowers (Or Something) -- Almost half (31 of 64) of the matches scheduled for Day 1 did not finish, meaning that Day 2 will be absolutely packed with action. Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro, Fernando Verdasco, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Andrea Petkovic, and Jelena Jankovic highlight the rollover action, all taking the court in addition to the bevy of previously scheduled matches from the bottom half of the Gentlemen's Singles draw and top half of the Ladies' Singles.