LONDON: Top seed Novak Djokovic overcame a dogged challenge from 81st-ranked Korean Kwon Soon-woo and his own grass-court rustiness to reach the Wimbledon second round with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory here on Monday.
The men’s singles defending champion, bidding for his fourth Wimbledon title in a row and his seventh overall, looked out-of-sorts at times against Kwon. The Korean brought a lively mixture of tennis, from booming forehands to delicate drop-shots, onto Centre Court.
Djokovic had not played a grass-court warm-up tournament and admitted that it did not help his game against a tough opponent, 11 years his junior. The 24-year-old Korean broke Djokovic’s serve in the fourth game of the second set and went on to win it.
But the Serb, aiming to win a 21st Grand Slam title, recovered enough of his trademark consistency to see off the challenge. He secured victory with an ace on his first match point. It was Djokovic’s 80th Wimbledon win and he became the only man to have won 80 matches at all four Grand Slams.
Ruud seals maiden win
Norwegian third seed Casper Ruud registered his maiden Wimbledon victory in his third main-draw appearance when he saw off Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(1), 7-6(9), 6-2. French Open runner-up Ruud failed to get past the opening hurdle in 2019 and 2021, and arrived at this year’s Wimbledon following a first-round loss at Queen’s.
Ruud served strongly, dishing out 14 aces, and dominated the baseline battle against the left-hander during a rain-interrupted match. Both players had opportunities in the first set, but neither managed a service break before Ruud dictated terms in the tie-breaker.
The 34-year-old Ramos-Vinolas, ranked 34th, traded two service breaks with his opponent in the second and had four set points in the tie-breaker to level the contest but ended up losing it to fall 0-2 behind. Ruud grew in confidence as the Spaniard’s challenge melted away and after two breaks in the third set, the Norwegian sealed victory Meanwhile, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, last year’s semi-finalist, suffered a surprise defeat to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, losing 6-7(4), 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-7(8).
RESULTS (SELECTED): Men’s singles: First round: N Djokovic bt S Kwon 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; C Ruud bt Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(1), 7-6(9), 6-2; A Davidovich Fokina bt H Hurkacz 7-6(4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(8).
Women’s singles: First round: B Pera lost to A Kontaveit 5-7, 1-6; M Bjorklund lost to O Jabeur 1-6, 3-6; A Van Uytvanck lost to E Raducanu 4-6, 4-6