In one of the most intriguing, raucous matches of the day, which stretched into the evening session, Taylor Dent, a 28-year-old American who left the tour for more than two years with a serious back injury, defeated Feliciano Lopez, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 7-5. It was an emotional return to the Open for Dent, who last played here in 2005, when he reached the third round.
He described the feeling to reporters as “ecstatic.” Doctors were unsure Dent would ever play tennis again, and it’s not too long since he was mulling putting the game aside for good and getting his real estate license.
“I was going through such a bout of almost depression at that stage that doing work was really tough on me, too,” Dent said. “I said, Let me find something fun. I stumbled upon a computer game that my buddy turned me on to. That actually kind of saved me in a way because I was able just to escape to another place and not think about the situation I was in.” The game? “World of Warcraft.”
Second-seeded Andy Murray advanced to the second round, too, in a dull, workmanlike match against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5. Gulbis is talented, displaying what John McEnroe described on ESPN as “flashes of brilliance,” but he doesn’t have the consistency yet to beat the very top players.
Maria Sharapova, who won the Open in 2006 but didn’t play here last year, sailed into the second round, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-3, 6-0.