WIMBLEDON, England — In his five-piece, tailor-made Gatsby getup, Roger Federer looked like a tennis player from a bygone era, one seen only in black-and-white photos.
As Federer warmed up Monday for what would become his 29th consecutive victory at Wimbledon, and 49th in a row on grass, he wore long trousers, replete with belt loops, and a sweater vest, all white with gold trim. An accompanying jacket, customized “RF” logo on the left breast pocket, was neatly draped over his changeover chair, completing the throwback ensemble.
His game, as usual, was as modern and colorful as they come, filled with grace and power. It was all too much for Teimuraz Gabashvili, a Russian who is ranked 86th and lost his first career match at Wimbledon 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on a wet and windy Day 1 at the grass-court Grand Slam, where winners included Andy Roddick, a slightly hobbled Serena Williams and — in a brilliant escape act — Martina Hingis.
For Federer, it was his first match since losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal; the Swiss star skipped his usual grass-court tuneup tournament to rest a beat-up body.
“I was, of course, a bit worried, maybe, before the first round,” said Federer, trying to equal Bjorn Borg’s modern-era record of five straight Wimbledon titles. “Look, I’ve got so much confidence, so much experience on this surface, that I always expect myself to play good matches on grass. That’s what happened today.”
If Federer’s result was familiar, Centre Court certainly was not: Its partial roof is completely gone as part of the project to build a retractable one by 2009, temporarily making for a less-intimate atmosphere — and the open-air setting is more susceptible to raindrops and breezes.
“It definitely does look and play a bit different this year,” said Federer, whose match began 2 1/2 hours late because of rain.
Plus, the hallowed arena now features two video screens for the debut of instant replay at the oldest Grand Slam tournament. Federer didn’t challenge any calls. Gabashvili did, questioning whether Federer’s forehand was in — and the replay showed it barely caught a line.
The history books will reflect that the first use of the new technology at the All England Club came at Court 1, during the No. 3-seeded Roddick’s 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory over Justin Gimelstob.
In the first set, Gimelstob challenged a fault call but the ruling was upheld.