Australia's Lleyton Hewitt waves to the crowd after losing his first round match on his final appearance at Wimbledon ©Getty Images

Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt’s farewell appearance at Wimbledon proved to be a short one as the 2002 champion was beaten in a thrilling five-set encounter with Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in the first round at the All England Club.

Hewitt, due to retire after next year’s Australian Open, claimed the first and third set of the match but Nieminen drew level on both occasions and having won the fourth set 6-0 looked the most likely to progress in the deciding set.

Despite Hewitt requiring treatment he managed to rally and saved four match points as the match built towards a dramatic conclusion, but the Australian succumbed on the fifth match point to eventually bow out, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9.

Nieminen, also due to retire at the end of the season, is now set to face world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the second round after the Serbian made light work of Germany’s Phillip Kohlschreiber, coming through 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Most of the top seeds enjoyed comfortably first round victories with newly crowned French Open champion Stan Wawrinka beating Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-2, 7-5, 7-6, while Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov secured a 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 over Argentina's Federico Delbonis.

British wildcard Liam Broady came back from two sets down to advance to the second round
British wildcard Liam Broady came back from two sets down to advance to the second round ©Getty Images

One of the most dramatic matches on the opening day featured Britain’s Liam Broady, who came back from two sets down on his Grand Slam singles debut to record a 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Australia's Marinko Matosevic to the delight of his home crowd.

There was not much more joy for British fans elsewhere as Broady’s sister Naomi and Johanna Konta fell at the first hurdle in the women’s draw.

Konta was, unsurprisingly, beaten in straight sets by 2004 champion Maria Sharapova.

The Russian, ranked number four, broke Konta’s early resistance to claim the first set 6-2 and, despite a minor blip at the start of the second set by going an early break of serve down, bounced back to complete to win that set by 6-2 also.

America’s Serena Williams got her Wimbledon campaign off to a flatering start as she pursues her fourth straight Grand Slam title, having won both the Australian and French Open titles this year in addition to her 2014 US Open triumph

The world number one found herself 3-1 down in the opening set against Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan but recovered to take the set 6-4.

The 33-year-old’s experience told and she claimed a straight sets victory by taking the second 6-1.

Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova will begin the defence of her title tomorrow.

In the men’s draw, meanwhile, seven-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland and Britain’s Andy Murray are due to play their first round matches.

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