22 Not Out: Novak Djokovic's Outstanding Wimbledon Streak Continues

It wasn't all plain sailing for the defending champion
19:38, 27 Jun 2022

It wasn’t quite child’s play for Novak Djokovic as he made it 22 wins in a row at Wimbledon starting his bid for a fourth straight title at the Championships, with Soon-woo Kwon putting in a spirited performance before the Serb put away his Korean opponent 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

But after six months of turbulence and turmoil in his own career, having seen his visa cancelled and been deported from Australia without being able to defend his title in Melbourne, and then told that his refusal to have a Covid vaccination could cost him entry into America for the US Open later this year, this was at least business as usual.

And Djokovic, opening up play as defending champion on a Centre Court that was protected by the roof from the rain delays elsewhere, was delighted that his victory was witnessed in person by son Stefan, star of an Instagram post put up by his dad the previous night urging the entire team to get their act together in putting up a trampoline.

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He said: “It's always a unique match to play as the defending champion, first on the grass. Other than this year that Wimbledon made a change so you could practice before the tournament starts, it was always coming out on the untouched grass. It's really a special feeling in our sport.

“It was nice to be back, and a good win against a player who is very talented. Serve got me out of trouble in some decisive moments, but I know I can do better.

“Yeah, Stefan was there today. It's always special for me the feeling to play in front of my son. I didn't have too many opportunities in my life to have that kind of sensation and experience. 

“On the trampoline, I think you can't argue with a child's honesty and pure no-filter comments, right? For him anyone playing in Wimbledon and their team are superheroes. 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. It was a really funny comment.

“I experienced something that I've never experienced in my life in Australia. So this post-Australian period of next several months was challenging emotionally for me. But in terms of my motivation on the court, trying to win more titles and be one of the contenders for more Grand Slams, it hasn't changed much.

“I'm aware that the circumstances are such that I might not play another slam for some time after this one at this moment, that that's the case. I guess that motivates me more to try to make the most out of this tournament. I'm hoping some things can change before the US Open and that I'll be able to go and compete. I would want to. But it is what it is at the moment, and my thoughts and attention is here.”

British No1 Cameron Norrie was out on Court Two and therefore subject to the vagaries of the day one weather, with two rain delays – the more irritating one coming when he was on the brink of victory after having already had match points. 

And afterwards the 26-year-old, ranked No12 in the world, hoped that his status as the highest-ranked home hope would see him on one of the two main show courts for his next outing against Jaume Munar.

Norrie, who beat Spanish clay-courter Pablo Andujar 6-0, 7-6, 6-3, said: “It was a tricky one obviously with the delays and having to stop and restart. Especially at the end with having a couple match points, then coming out and having to play again.

“I wasn't too aware of the clouds coming in until someone shouted, ‘C'mon, Cam, get it done before the rain’. Obviously I was trying to get it done!

 “It would be nice to play on a show court, especially with the weather. As we saw today, I had to come off twice. Having those Centre Court and Court 1 have the roof so that you know you're guaranteed to play. I would like to be on a bigger court, but I'll play on any court.”

In the end, it seemed that Norrie – promoted to the top seeds’ elite locker room for the first time – had more trouble getting past Djokovic to get to his locker than with his opponent. He added: “

“They put my locker right next to Novak's. I was asking him how Centre Court was, talking to him a little bit. Mostly all his stuff was in the way of mine. I was trying to get past him, try to get to my locker.”

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