In his first match since capturing his record-tying 20th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic made a blistering start to his quest for his first gold medal on Saturday afternoon, beating Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics.
Djokovic was never in trouble in the 61-minute contest, winning almost twice as many points as Dellien in the match, 61 to 31. He also never faced a break point in eight service games and broke the No. 139-ranked Bolivian twice per set en route to victory.
Afterwards, Djokovic talked about how much the Olympics mean to him.
“It’s just a different kind of energy, coming into the Olympics and representing your country, than any other tournament,” Djokovic told ITFTennis.com. “The Olympics is once every four years; we have four Grand Slams and many tournaments every year in our sport—we are lucky to have many opportunities. But the Olympics, it’s four years. That’s why the build-up is so important, and of course if you lose, you feel like the whole world fell apart in that moment. But the next day you move on—that’s sport.
“Hopefully I can keep smiling in a week’s time, we’ll see.”
The Serb has now won his last 19 matches in a row, going 4-0 to win the ATP 250 clay-court event in Belgrade the week before Roland Garros, then 7-0 to win Roland Garros for the second time, 7-0 to win Wimbledon for the sixth time and 1-0 so far in Tokyo.
Awaiting Djokovic in the second round will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, who beat Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro earlier in the day, 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic is 5-0 against Struff, and 13-1 in sets, but the No. 48-ranked German has 10 career wins over Top 10 players, including two in the last two months—he took out Andrey Rublev in the first round of Roland Garros and Daniil Medvedev in the first round of Halle.
Speaking of Medvedev, the Russian also won his Olympic opener on Saturday, holding off Alexander Bublik, 6-4, 7-6 (8). The second set could have gone either way—Bublik originally led 3-0 and even had a set point up 7-6 in the tie-break—but Medvedev rifled an ace to save that set point and closed the Kazakh out after an hour and 38 minutes.