Djokovic sends warning shot as he begins Wimbledon title defense

Djokovic sends warning shot as he begins Wimbledon title defense

The top-seeded Serb is going for his fifth Wimbledon trophy and 16th overall.

On Monday, Novak Djokovic sent a warning shot to his rivals after easily handling Philipp Kohlschreiber in his Wimbledon opener, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

“In order to win straight-set matches against, for example, Kohlschreiber, my first-round opponent, a very good, quality tennis player on grass, or any surface for that matter—he won against me earlier this year in Indian Wells—you need the right intensity,” Djokovic said over the weekend. “You need to kind of be in the moment, focus only on the next challenge.”

The defending champion extended his Wimbledon first-round winning streak to 15 matches. He has not lost in the opening round of a Grand Slam since 2006 at the Australian Open. He also extended his winning record against Kohlschreiber to 11-2, and 3-1 in 2019, having lost to the 35-year-old German in the third round of Indian Wells in March. 

On Monday, the top seed dropped his opening service games in the first two sets, but quickly recovered both times. It was hardly the best match Djokovic has ever played, but it was more than enough to oust Kohlschreiber. Djokovic only won five of 13 break points and his first serve percentage was average. Considered by many as the best returner in the business, he only managed to win just 44 percentage returns against the German.

"The break in the first game wasn't the start that I was looking for. But I think I came with the right intensity," said Djokovic. "I answered back really well. Then from that moment onwards, I played pretty good match, I thought. It was a good quality. I held my serve well.

"Of course, the first match, you slip few times, still kind of finding the right position on the court, the right place. But I'm overall satisfied."

Djokovic, who entered last year’s Wimbledon ranked 21st, is enjoying his 258th week at the top of the ATP rankings, 10 weeks behind Jimmy Connor’s 268 weeks—the fourth-most since 1973. He’s going for his fifth Wimbledon title, and 16th Grand Slam singles title. No matter what happens this coming fortnight, he will retain the No. 1 ranking as he has a big cushion over Rafael Nadal.

The four-time Wimbledon champion next plays Denis Kudla, who defeated Malek Jaziri, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. It will be a first-time clash between the two.