WIMBLEDON, England — Ivan Lendl's quest for a first Wimbledon title almost ended in the first round today against a Venezuelan who was junior champion a year ago.
Nicolas Pereira, an 18-year-old, gave the world's top-ranked player a three-hour battle before Lendl asserted his power and experience for a 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 victory.
Stefan Edberg began defense of his men's singles title in more dominating style, reliving the memories of last summer as he beat Canadian Chris Pridham 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
On a sun-splashed Centre Court before a sell-out crowd that included Britain's Duchess of York, the second-seeded Swede played classic serve-and-volley tennis, breaking Pridham's serve on match point.
"I was a little nervous walking out on court. But I got off a good start, and that helped," Edberg said. "It's a nice feeling. You can hear the crowd and you have nice memories. . . . But once you get on court, that disappears very quickly."
Two-time champion Boris Becker, the men's third seed, beat American Bryan Shelton 6-1, 6-4, 7-6, and Jimmy Connors started his 18th consecutive Wimbledon with a Centre Court victory over Andrei Cherkosov of the Soviet Union.
The 36-year-old American, seeded 10th, talked with officials and fans, did a brief impersonation of countryman John McEnroe and beat Cherkosov 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Seeds had a fairly easy time in early matches as the grass-court Grand Slam opened its two-week run.
Aaron Krickstein of the United States, seeded 13th, beat Francesco Cancellotti of Italy 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Mikael Pernfors of Sweden, seeded 15th, beat Michael Stich 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, and 16th-seeded Amos Mansdorf of Israel defeated Sergi Bruguera of Spain 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. But sixth-seeded Jakab Hlasek of Switzerland was beaten by Thomas Hogstedt of Sweden 6-3, 7-6, 6-1.
In the women's draw, sixth-seeded Helena Sukova of Czechoslovakia beat Monique Javer of Britain 6-4, 6-4; 11th-seeded Monica Seles of Yugoslavia struggled before beating Brenda Schultz of the Netherlands 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, and 15th-seeded Lori McNeil of the United States beat Nicole Jagerman 6-3, 6-1.
In other early matches, Ken Flach beat Sammy Giammalva 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 0-6, 6-3 in a match between two Americans; former top-10 Swede Anders Jarryd lost to Slobodon Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-0, and former Australian Open champion Johan Kriek lost to Lief Shiras of the United States 7-6, 6-2, 6-2.