Djokovic makes solid start to Wimbledon title defence

Sports Monday 27/June/2016 21:38 PM
By: Times News Service
Djokovic makes solid start to Wimbledon title defence

London: It was not quite the triple bagel that Novak Djokovic was aiming for during the opening 41 minutes of his first-round match but the Serbian is unlikely to be too disappointed after he beat Britain's James Ward 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-4 at Wimbledon on Monday.
The holder of all four grand slam titles appeared to be hurtling towards his 29th successive win at a major when he opened his Wimbledon defence by jumping out to a 6-0, 3-0 lead.
But two rallying war cries from the Centre Court crowd, "Wake up Wardy, wake up" followed by "He's only human James!" snapped the 177th-ranked wildcard out of his trance.
A 'human' Djokovic was forced to block out the noisy commotion moments later when Ward finally held serve to save his blushes.
Had the world number one not kept track of the score, he might have thought Ward had just won the match as the Briton celebrated by holding both arms aloft as he lapped up the applause from all around the court.
Ward, who had not won a tour level match of any kind since making the third round here 12 months ago, then went on a roll to level the set at 3-3.
He also had three chances to break his more illustrious opponent in the 11th game of the second set but it was not long before Djokovic snapped back into his 'Super-human' persona and ushered the son of a London black cab driver out of Wimbledon.
"I was really flawless, I felt great," said the 29-year-old, who is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold the first three legs of the calendar grand slam.
Unsurprisingly, Ward's memory of the day was somewhat different.
"It was an ugly start," Ward said after slumping to his eighth successive tour-level defeat.
"The more the games go on, you start panicking, especially against a guy who is making so many balls. Everything you hit is coming back," he added.
"(But) I'm proud of myself the way I turned it around because it could have been ugly."

Tough for Muguruza
French Open champion Garbine Muguruza had to work hard to transfer her punch on Paris clay to Wimbledon's grass on Monday, beating Camila Giorgi 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 with a performance of powerful baseline tennis.
In a match coinciding with the Spain vs Italy clash at Euro 2016 in France, the Spanish world number two and her battling Italian opponent, ranked 65 places below, entertained the Centre Court with intense rallies of relentless ferocity.
It was the confidence and enormous serve of last year's runner-up Muguruza that that got the better of Giorgi -- but not before the 24-year-old Italian had overcome bouts of inconsistency to force a forehand error and grab the second set.
The Spaniard, 22, finally put her foot down in the 10-minute third game of the third set, forcing six break points before finally wrestling the game from the underdog.
A big serve that Giorgi could only put wide won Muguruza the match and a clash with Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova in the second round.

Nishikori sails
Japan's Kei Nishikori produced a fine display of hard hitting from the baseline to subdue Australia's Sam Groth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in an entertaining clash of styles.
The crowd on Court One was treated to a rare show of serving and volleying as Groth - with his trademark baseball cap worn backwards - charged into the net after his big first serve, which topped 140 mph on occasion.
But he could not find a way past fifth seed Nishikori's rock-steady groundstrokes and was broken in the fifth game after a series of unforced errors that gave some indication why he is ranked more than 100 places below the Japanese player in the world rankings.
Nishikori's first set was all about consistency, but in the second he showed his full array of shots. He broke Groth three times, passing the helpless Australian at the net time and again, down the line and cross court, with stinging forehands and backhands.
There were worrying moments for Nishikori fans at the end of the second set when he took a medical time-out and the physio came on to examine him.
He had been forced to pull out of the Halle tournament this month because of a rib injury and coming into Wimbledon said he was "not 100 percent yet".
But the 26-year-old showed no sign of weakness in the third set as he raced into a 2-0 lead. Groth, 28, pegged him back with some big serving and deft volleying, but ultimately errors were his undoing once again.
He double-faulted twice and buried a forehand in the net as he was broken in the 12th game to lose the match.

Ivanovic ousted
Former world number Ana Ivanovic blamed a wrist injury for a surprise first-round defeat by lowly-ranked Russian qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova.
The Serb became the highest women's seed to perish on day one, losing 6-2, 7-5 to the world number 223 playing her first ever grand slam match after coming through qualifying.
"Yeah, it was very tough," Ivanovic told reporters.
"I mean, for two weeks I've struggled with my right wrist. It was very hard to accelerate on my forehand. I tried to do everything possible to be fit and recover and tape it and so on.
"But, yeah, it was a little bit sore. I feel like it caused me a lot of miss-hits."
Ivanovic, seeded 23, reached the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon warm-up event in Mallorca this month but it was there that she started to struggle with her wrist.
"It really got inflamed," Ivanovic, one of nine grand slam champions in the women's singles draw, said.
"I had a couple of days off and it started to calm down a little bit. Every time I would start hitting, it would flare up. I felt like I could probably manage it.
"But it's tough on grass when the ball really skids through. She was hitting very heavy. It was disappointing."
Ivanovic was not the only seed to lose on Monday.
In the men's singles, South African Kevin Anderson, seeded 20, lost to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 4-6, 6-7(13), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-3, while Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat 21st-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Raonic advances
Under the watchful gaze of new coach and Tennis royalty John McEnroe, sixth seed Milos Raonic got off to a solid start with a 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4 win over Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta at Wimbledon on Monday.
While the Canadian was not at the powerful best that took him to his first grasscourt final at Queen's just over a week ago, his class and big serve overwhelmed Carreno Busta 7-6(4) 6-2 6-4.
Much of the attention on Court Two was devoted to three-times Wimbledon champion McEnroe, who slipped into the players' box when Raonic was 3-2 up in a close first set. As many cameras and phones were pointed at him as his 25-year-old charge.
Raonic, hoping to better his 2014 semi-final appearance when he lost to Roger Federer, took the second set with a cheeky lob over the Spaniard, ranked 46th in the world. The Canadian needed seven match points to seal the match in the third.

Cilic cruises
Marin Cilic's firepower proved too much for American Brian Baker as the Croatian cruised through his Wimbledon first-round match 6-3 7-5 6-3 on Monday.
The 6ft 6in tall ninth seed, a quarter-finalist last year, thundered down a series of 130 mph-plus serves and stinging forehands to see off the challenge from Baker, ranked a distant 589th in the world.
Cilic, 27, broke serve once in each of the first two sets. Baker, whose career has been plagued by knee, elbow and hip injuries, had a glimmer of a chance in the second when he too had break points - but Cilic emphatically shut the door with a series of unreturnable serves.
The 31-year-old American's resistance crumbled in the third set as his serve was broken twice by Cilic, who was cheered to victory by his coach Goran Ivanisevic, a former Wimbledon champion.

Venus wins
As she has done for most of the past 18 summers, Venus Williams on Monday took a large, languid stride into the second round of Wimbledon.
The oldest woman in the main singles draw, five-times champion Williams was at times sublime as she beat Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6(3), 6-4 on a sunny Court One.
While the full Williams armoury had been on display, it was her mental strength which stood out -- perhaps no surprise given she is playing her 71st grand slam singles tournament, a record among current female players.
Vekic produced startling groundstrokes at times, but eighth seed Williams maintained her composure, increasing the pressure when things got tight as her opponent wilted in the spotlight.
There cannot be too many grand slam years left for Williams, who celebrated her 36th birthday this month, but she showed more than enough on Day One to suggest she could again go deep in her favourite major.

Karlovic through
Towering veteran Ivo Karlovic flew the flag for a small army of 30 somethings as he put teenager and fellow Croatian Borna Coric firmly in his place at Wimbledon on Monday.
The 23rd seed, the second oldest man in the draw at 37, sent down his usual barrage of unreturnable serves on the tight confines of Court Eight, winning 7-6(8), 7-6(7), 6-4.
He also demonstrated that he is no one-trick pony, plucking some sensational low volleys way down off his shoelaces and out-witting Coric with his crafty sliced backhand.
Coric, part of a new generation of teenagers tipped for the top, could not hide his frustration as he made little impact on the most destructive serve in Tennis.
His mood was not helped as he let slip a 6-2 lead in the second-set tiebreak, the 19-year-old raging at his coach and entourage as he went two sets behind.
The 2.11-metres tall Karlovic, who added another 26 aces to the world record 10,825 he had served in his career coming into Wimbledon, needed just a solitary break of serve in the third set to seal an impressive victory.
Karlovic is one of 49 men aged over a 30 in the men's singles draw - a Wimbledon record.