London: Novak Djokovic got the defence of his Wimbledon title off to an impressive start when, serving superbly, he overwhelmed Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets in the first match on Centre Court on Monday.
After a few early wobbles Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 as, perhaps already buoyed by the presence of new coach Goran Ivanisevic, he really hit the mark with his serves.
“He’s someone I’ve always looked up to and we’ve been friends for a long time — though usually on the opposite side of the net,” Djokovic said of the 2001 champion who has come on board as part of his coaching team.
“He’s coached lots of great players, so it’s great to have him on my side. He’s going to stay for sure through the first week then we’ll see. It’s a great pleasure to have such a champion and, hopefully, we can have a long collaboration.”
Djokovic, 32, came into the tournament having decided not to play a grass-court warm-up event and he must have been a little edgy having lost to Kohlschreiber in straight sets on the hard courts of Indian Wells earlier this year. For a man not so well known outside tennis circles, 35-year-old Kohlschreiber has a long, if not particularly distinguished, career.
This Wimbledon was his 60th grand slam event — putting him joint-ninth in the open-era on the appearances list. It was also his 15th successive Wimbledon, but Monday’s two-hour show marked the ninth time he had failed to get past the first round.
The champion made an inauspicious start, double-faulting his first serve en route to being broken, but quickly found his feet to reel off the next four games and win the first set 6-3.
Kohlschreiber found his length with more consistency in the second and the two traded heavy blows in crowd-pleasing rallies not often seen these days on the grass.
At 4-4 the German saved three break points — the last courtesy of a successful challenge — only to drop his next service game as Djokovic served out for 7-5 and a two-set lead.
The early stages of the third set were also entertainingly well-fought, with both men nailing the baseline with huge power until Djokovic really found his serving rhythm to take command and wrap up the match by taking it 6-3.
“It felt great, it’s the sacred court, the cradle of our sport and it has a special place in my heart and my career,” Djokovic said.
“Opening round matches are always tricky, he has a lot of experience and beat me this year. I know he can play good quality tennis, he takes the ball early, so it was a great test for me and all three sets were pretty close.”
Novak Djokovic (1), Serbia, def. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Germany, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Denis Kudla, United States, def. Malek Jaziri, Tunisia, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3
Leonardo Mayer, Argentina, def. Ernests Gulbis, Latvia, 6-1, 7-6 (12), 6-2
Felix Auger Aliassime (19), Canada, def. Vasek Pospisil, Canada, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Kevin Anderson (4), South Africa, def. Pierre-Hugues Herbert, France, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia, def. Yoshihito Nishioka, Japan, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Andreas Seppi, Italy, def. Nicolas Jarry, Chile, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-1, 6-2
Stan Wawrinka (22), Switzerland, def. Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Reilly Opelka, United States, def. Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Germany, 6-3, 7-6, 6-1
Robin Haase, Netherlands, def. Jozef Kovalik, Slovakia, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1
Karen Khachanov (10), Russia, def. Soon Woo Kwon, Republic of Korea, 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
Feliciano Lopez Diaz-Guerra, Spain, def. Marcos Giron, United States, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Steve Darcis, Belgium, def. Mischa Zverev, Germany, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
Roberto Bautista-Agut (23), Spain, def. Peter Gojowczyk, Germany, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Elina Svitolina (8), Ukraine, def. Daria Gavrilova, Australia, 7-5, 6-0
Margarita Gasparyan, Russia, def. Anna-Lena Friedsam, Germany, 6-4, 6-4
Marie Bouzkova, Czech Republic, def. Mona Barthel, Germany, 6-3, 6-3
Maria Sakkari (31), Greece, def. Bernarda Pera, United States, 7-6, 6-3
Petra Martic (24), Croatia, def. Jennifer Brady, United States, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Anastasija Sevastova (12), Latvia, def. Kristie Haerim Ahn, United States, 6-3, 6-4
Karolina Muchova, Czech Republic, def. Aleksandra Krunic, Serbia, 7-5, 6-2
Heather Watson, Britain, def. Caty McNally, United States, 7-6 (3), 6-2
Anett Kontaveit (20), Estonia, def. Shelby Rogers, United States, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4
Monica Puig, Puerto Rico, def. Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova, Slovakia, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5
Karolina Pliskova (3), Czech Republic, def. Lin Zhu, China, 6-2, 7-6 (4)
Simona Halep (7), Romania, def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Belarus, 6-4, 7-5
Mihaela Buzarnescu, Romania, def. Jessica Pegula, United States, 6-4, 6-4
Madison Keys (17), United States, def. Luksika Kumkhum, Thailand, 6-3, 6-2
Polona Hercog, Slovenia, def. Viktoria Kuzmova, Slovakia, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5
Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia, def. Aryna Sabalenka (10), Belarus, 6-2, 6-4
Sofia Kenin (27), United States, def. Astra Sharma, Australia, 6-4, 6-2
Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine, def. Camila Giorgi, Italy, 6-3, 6-3
Viktorija Golubic, Switzerland, def. Iga Swiatek, Poland, 6-2, 7-6.