Tennis

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic made to work for place in round two

Novak Djokovic has won the past three Wimbledon men’s singles titles, in 2018, ’19 and ’21. John Walton-Press Association, via Associated Press

Novak Djokovic was made to work for his place in the second round of Wimbledon on Monday by Kwon Soon-woo.

The reigning champion advanced with victory in four sets over the South Korean.

In the first match of this year’s tournament on Centre Court, which had its roof closed due to rain, Djokovic was pegged back at 1-1. But he ultimately prevailed 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4.

The six-time champion has now won each of his past 22 matches at the All England Club and will face either Thanasi Kokkinakis or Kamil Majchrzak in the next round.

Djokovic had yet to play on grass in 2022 prior to his opening clash with Kwon and he was far from his fluent best in the first two sets in particular.

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Kwon earned the match’s first break in the third game with a glorious forehand, though Djokovic hit back with two breaks of his own to edge the opening set.

The world number 81 earned the only break of serve in the second set’s fourth game, with Djokovic squandering three break-points of his own in the following game.

However, the Serbian showed good signs of recovery and some impressive shots around the court by holding throughout the third set and breaking Kwon in the eighth game.

Kwon failed to take advantage of two break-points in the second game of the final set and it was plain sailing from that point on for Djokovic.

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He completed the job in just under two-and-a-half hours and is the first male player in the Open Era with 80 or more main draw wins in all four grand slam tournaments.

Djokovic may have slipped down to third in the ATP rankings after a disrupted campaign, and he was not at his best against Kwon. But he remains the man to beat at Wimbledon as he bids for a fourth consecutive title.

He is without defeat at SW19 since retiring in his quarter-final with Tomas Berdych in the 2017 quarter-finals, with Monday’s victory his 80th in 90 matches in the tournament.

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