Tennis·ROUNDUP

Top seed Djokovic into Wimbledon 2nd round with 80th career win at All England Club

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic, a six-time Wimbledon champion at the All England Club, beat Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Monday in London for his 80th victory at the grass-court major. Meanwhile, Canada's Rebecca Marino dropped her opening match.

6-time event champ defeated Korea's Kwon Soon-woo; Canada's Marino eliminated

Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 seed at Wimbledon and six-time champion, needed four sets to eliminate South Korea's Kwon Soonwoo in Monday’s first-round match in London. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)

Novak Djokovic's play was not particularly, well, Djokovic-esque, at Wimbledon on Monday.

Even he acknowledged as much.

He got broken early and trailed 3-1 as he began his bid for a fourth consecutive championship and seventh overall at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament. He recovered to take that set, then dropped the next. He slipped and fell to the grass. He accumulated more unforced errors than his opponent. Maybe he was a bit under the weather; he grabbed tissues from a black box on the sideline and blew his nose. Maybe he was simply a bit off, not having played a match that mattered in nearly a full month.

This, though, is the top-seeded Djokovic, and there's a reason he extended his winning streak at the All England Club to 22, and his career victory total there to 80 — making him the first player in tennis history with at least that many at each major — by beating Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Centre Court under the retractable roof.

And there's a reason that friends of the wife of Kwon's coach, Daniel Yoo, held up decorated signs in a player guest box bearing Korean messages that Yoo said meant "Fight!" and "Don't get hurt!"

So Kwon walked on court jittery. But after just two games, the 81st-ranked Kwon said through Yoo's translation, "I felt like, 'Oh, this is doable. ... I can hang with him a little bit."'

With the exception of a loss for No. 7 seed Hubert Hurkacz, a semifinalist at the All England Club a year ago, Day 1 signaled a fairly routine return to pre-pandemic normal, with capacity crowds, zero masks, the Wimbledon Queue in full effect and, of course, on-and-off-and-on-again showers.

Hurkacz, coming off a grass title over the weekend, lost 7-6 (4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8) to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a match that featured Wimbledon's new final-set format: women's third sets and men's fifth sets that get to 6-all will go to a first-to-10-and-win-by-two tiebreaker.

That might as well be called the John Isner Rule, owing to the American's 70-68 fifth-set victory over Nicolas Mahut in 2010 and 26-24 fifth-set loss to Kevin Anderson in 2018, both at Wimbledon, both before the tournament adopted deciding-set tiebreakers.

On Monday, Isner was back on Court 18, the site of the Mahut marathon, and smacked 54 aces in a 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Enzo Couacaud. Isner's next match figures to be held at a bigger court, because he'll be facing Andy Murray, who has won two of his three major championships at Wimbledon.

Murray's 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over James Duckworth came at Centre Court and followed another triumph there by a British major title winner, reigning U.S. Open champ Emma Raducanu.

"From the moment I walked out through those gates, I could really just feel the energy and the support and everyone was behind me from the word `go,"' the 19-year-old Raducanu said after defeating Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-4. "I just really tried to cherish every single point out there. Played every point like it could have been one of my last on that court."

Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, had not played since losing to rival Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarter-finals and it seemed to show. Kwon's piercing, flat groundstrokes and soft drop shots were effective for stretches.

"I did not start, or did not play, at my best," said Djokovic, whose 20 Grand Slam trophies are tied with Roger Federer for the second-most in men's tennis history behind Nadal's 22. "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."

Keep in mind, too, that this might very well be Djokovic's last major event of this season — and for 11 more months, until the 2023 French Open.

As things stand, he will not be allowed into the United States as a foreigner who hasn't gotten his COVID-19 shots and must miss the U.S. Open, which begins in August. He also could end up sitting out a second consecutive Australian Open because he is unvaccinated — a status he said Saturday he would not consider changing.

After Monday's match, Djokovic said he's not thinking ahead to New York at the moment but added: "I'm hoping some things can change and that I'll be able to go and compete. I would want to."

3rd-seeded Jabeur moves on

The first player to reach the second round was Alison Riske. The 28th-seeded American defeated Ylena In-Albon of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4.

Other seeded women who advanced were No. 3 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia and No. 29 Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine. Kalinina will face another Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko, in the second round.

French Open finalist Casper Ruud won his opening match on Court 12. The third-seeded Norwegian defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (1), 7-6 (9), 6-2.

Polish qualifier takes down Vancouver's Marino

Katarzyna Kawa converted two pivotal break points late in the match to secure a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over Vancouver's Rebecca Marino in first-round women's action Monday at Wimbledon.

Marino was serving for the match in Game 10 of the third set, but didn't get a match point opportunity as the Polish qualifier picked up her fourth break to tie the set 5-5.

After winning the next game to take a 6-5 lead, Kawa won the match by converting her fifth of 10 breakpoint chances when Marino hit an unforced error while facing match point.

WATCH | Canada's Rebecca Marino makes 1st-round exit:

Vancouver's Rebecca Marino eliminated in Wimbledon 1st round

3 months ago
Duration 3:55
Qualifier Katarzyna Kawa of Poland was victorious over Vancouver's Rebecca Marino 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the first round at Wimbledon.

Marino had six aces to Kawa's three, and Kawa, ranked No. 132 in the world, committed seven double faults, four more than Marino. But Marino had 58 unforced errors in the match to 50 for Kawa.

The Canadian, ranked 104 in the world, had 13 breakpoint chances against Kawa, converting four.

Marino was competing in the Wimbledon main women's draw for the first time since 2011.

The other three Canadians in the main draws are set to play their opening matches Tuesday.

Sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal and 13th seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., are in the men's main draw, and Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., the 2019 U.S. Open champion and runner-up at last week's grass-court event in Bad Homburg, Germany, is in the women's draw.

Player comes to aid of fainting ballboy

Quick reactions are a hallmark of being a professional tennis player, and Jodie Burrage showed the Wimbledon crowd she could respond to adversity quickly.

The British player noticed a ballboy who was feeling faint on the sidelines during her match on Monday, then rushed over to make sure he was OK. She first gave him a sports drink, then some nutritional gel before a spectator handed over a bag of candy.

"Just tried to get him some sugar, gave him a Gatorade and a gel. The gel is not the nicest thing, so they managed to find some Percy Pigs somewhere along the line in the crowd, which he got down and then started to feel better," Burrage said. "Hopefully he's feeling better now.

"I just reacted how I think anyone would. He was not in a good spot."

The match was stopped for about 10 minutes until the boy was helped off court.

Unfortunately for the 23-year-old Burrage, her heroics didn't help her in the match. She lost to Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-3 on the opening day of the tournament.

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