Djokovic Begins Title Defence By Beating Kohlschreiber At Wimbledon
Defending champion Novak Djokovic was broken in his first service game of The Championships against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber. But the Serbian was undeterred, maintaining his undefeated record in the first round at Wimbledon (15-0).
Djokovic, a four-time champion at this major, beat Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to move into the second round on the London grass. The World No. 1 struck 36 winners to just 19 unforced errors, advancing after two hours and two minutes in his first match with 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic on his team, alongside Marian Vajda.
"The break in the first game wasn't the start that I was looking for. But I think I came with the right intensity. I answered back really well," Djokovic said. "Then from that moment onwards, I played a pretty good match, I thought. It was a good quality. I held my serve well."
Kohlschreiber was a tricky first-round opponent for Djokovic, as the 35-year-old defeated the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open earlier this year, and also pushed him to three sets at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But Djokovic was locked in from the baseline in a match that featured creative rallies moreso than power, extending his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 57 to 11-2.
"I think we had very tough sets. I was always first up with the break, which I couldn't hold long enough to make more pressure," Kohlschreiber said. "But I think we had great rallies. But overall, he was a very strong opponent today. I think he played his service games very smoothly, and I had to work very hard for my service games."
Djokovic did not play a grass-court tournament before arriving at The Championships this year. But that was not a stunner for the Serbian, who did not compete on the surface before Wimbledon ahead of three of his runs to the title here. The 32-year-old’s last event was Roland Garros, where he lost in the semi-finals against two-time finalist Dominic Thiem.
The top seed is in a far different position at the All England Club this season compared to last year. Then, Djokovic was World No. 21, struggling to recover from a right elbow injury. But the Serbian found his best tennis to claim his fourth Wimbledon title.
"Every time I step on the court, I reflect on what has happened the previous year, especially if you come as the defending champion," Djokovic said. "I did kind of go through the feelings, rewind those memories, the last championship point against Anderson last year in the finals. Yeah, it was quite a different situation or quite different circumstances 12 months ago and now."
Grass has been Kudla’s best surface, as the American has now won 52.5 per cent of his matches on it. In 2015, he made the fourth round at Wimbledon. But Kudla owns an 0-9 record against opponents placed inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings.
Also in Djokovic's section, Argentine Leonardo Mayer beat former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis 6-1, 7-6(12), 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes. Mayer, who advanced to the fourth round at SW19 in 2014, converted on five of the 17 break points he earned against the Latvian.
Mayer will next play 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz, who ousted Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in in two hours and 34 minutes. It was Hurkacz's first main draw win at Wimbledon after losing in the first round on his debut last year.