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ATP Novak Djokovic pushed early but wins Wimbledon opener

No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic withstood an early challenge from South Korean Soon-woo Kwon to win 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in his opening match at Wimbledon on Monday.

Djokovic, who has won the past three men’s singles titles at Wimbledon and six in all, moved to 17-0 in his career in first-round matches on the grass courts at the All England Club in London. He has won 22 straight matches at Wimbledon, this one in two hours, 27 minutes.

“I’ve said this before but this court is truly special,” said Djokovic in his on-court interview after the match. “For me it has always been the court I dreamed of playing and winning (on), and all my childhood dreams came true here so it’s an honor and pleasure to be back on Centre Court.”

Djokovic hadn’t played a tournament match since May 31, when he lost to rival Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the French Open.

The rust showed early in the first set on Monday, when Kwon jumped to a 3-1 lead. But Djokovic rattled off a streak of five straight wins to take the set.

Kwon didn’t break the Serbian great’s serve again in the match after the first set, with Djokovic saving four of six break chances on the day. Djokovic fired 15 aces and won points on 86 percent — 54 of 63 — of his first serves.

Two former Grand Slam champions returning to play from long-term injuries also were in action, with a split verdict in the first round.

No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy ousted Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, while two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray dropped the first set but rebounded to defeat James Duckworth of Australia 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

“It was amazing to be back out here again with a full crowd,” Murray, a 35-year-old from Scotland, said in his on-court interview. “Amazing atmosphere. Obviously I’m getting on a bit now, so I don’t know how many more opportunities I (will) get to play on this court, so I want to make the most of every time I get to come out here now. Glad I managed to get through it.”

Among the other Top 10 seeds, third seed Casper Ruud of Norway was pushed by Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas but won 7-6 (1), 7-6 (9), 6-2. Spanish youngster Carlos Alcaraz, the fifth seed, survived a five-set, four-hour marathon, defeating Germany’s Jan Lennard-Struff 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 behind 30 aces. He had 73 winners to 40 unforced errors.

Seventh-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2021, was ousted by another Spaniard, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who pulled off a 7-6 (4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (8) win. Home favorite Cameron Norrie, the ninth seed, cruised to a three-set victory over Pablo Andujar of Spain.

Other winners included Americans John Isner, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe, as well as Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

–Field Level Media

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