Six-Time Champ, But Trampoline Troubles Blight Djokovic Camp
Novak Djokovic found a fix for his on-court problems on Monday to clinch an opening-round win against Soonwoo Kwon at Wimbledon. Yet his seven-year-old Stefan isn’t so sure about the six-time champion’s everyday handyman skills.
The top seed posted a video via Instagram on Sunday of him and his team trying and failing to fix a broken trampoline, prompting Stefan to ask a question in the background: “How come you don’t know how to put together a trampoline and you are competing at Wimbledon?”
“I think you can't argue with a child's honesty and pure no-filter comments, right?” said Djokovic after his 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against Kwon on Monday. “For him anyone playing in Wimbledon is a superhero. He did not only direct that to me but the entire team. For him, everyone in my team is playing in Wimbledon.
“He saw these big guys that have muscles, my fitness coach, tennis coach, and he couldn't understand how is it that we can't fix a trampoline and we're playing at Wimbledon. It was a really funny, funny comment.”
In line with tradition, Djokovic’s status as defending champion saw him kick off the opening-day action on the fresh grass on Centre Court. It’s an experience Djokovic still relishes, despite having enjoyed it five times before, but he acknowledged that Stefan’s presence courtside had given him an extra boost.
“It's always special for me the feeling to play in front of my son,” said Djokovic. “I didn't have too many opportunities in my life to have that kind of sensation and experience. It's always very unique.”
Djokovic struggled to find his best level early against World No. 81 Kwon, but after dropping the second set the Serbian stayed solid to extend his first-round record at The All England Lawn Tennis Club to 17-0.
“It was nice to be back,” said the top seed. “I think it was a good win against a player who is very talented. He has a lot of quality from both the forehand and backhand corner. I did not start or play at my best, but I think when I needed to find the right shots, I did. I think my serve got me out of trouble in some decisive moments. I know I can do better.”
The Serbian opted not to contest a grass-court tournament prior to Wimbledon and he was aware he needed to be on his toes against Kwon as he adapted to the surface. It was not a situation that was likely to panic the 20-time Grand Slam champion, however, as he chose the same schedule for five of his six title runs at SW19.
“Like really with any other surface, [but] particularly on grass, you just need to play more matches in order to get that match play,” said Djokovic, who is bidding for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon crown. “Because it's completely different playing points at the practice session to walking out on the Centre Court and actually playing an official match. Nerves kick in and everything that you are going through.
“I'm pleased with the win today against an opponent that I felt was feeling the ball pretty well from the baseline. It was really difficult to get the ball past him. He was always there. He was playing flat. The ball was just coming fast and low. He really made me work for the win.
“But for the first match, I'm pleased, and I'll keep going.”