The six-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic started his title defence with a four-set win against 81st-ranked Soonwoo Kwon in the first round here on Monday.
Djokovic’s 2022 Wimbledon hopes were given a stern opening test by Kwon, but the defending champion stayed resolute to hold off the South Korean and advance to the second round at the grass-court Grand Slam here.
The Serbian maintained a solid level in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against the World No. 81, yet Kwon’s aggressive tactics meant Djokovic was never completely comfortable in his first tour-level match since his Roland Garros quarterfinal on May 31.
The South Korean was a break up in each of the first two sets and pumped up the Centre Court crowd after he levelled proceedings at a set apiece, but Djokovic’s trademark consistency proved enough to complete a two-hour, 27-minute victory.
Kwon was seeking just his fourth tour-level victory on grass, but the South Korean looked at home in the opening exchanges on Centre Court as he struck the ball cleanly off both wings. He broke early for a 3-1 lead, but Djokovic settled into some rhythm of his own to reel off five consecutive games and secure the first set.
The top seed will face Thanasi Kokkinakis or Kamil Majchrzak in the second round at SW19, where he now holds an 80-10 record. The World No. 3 is chasing his fourth consecutive title at Wimbledon, and his seventh overall.
That tally would draw him level with legendary American Pete Sampras and move him within one of record-holder Roger Federer’s eight crowns.
(Inputs from IANS)