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Djokovic begins title defence with win over Kohlschreiber

Djokovic begins title defence with win over Kohlschreiber
By Eurosport

01/07/2019 at 15:17Updated 01/07/2019 at 15:56

Novak Djokovic completed a 6-3 7-5 6-3 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber to begin his Wimbledon title defence in style on Centre Court.

The Serbian world number one was a break down early in the second set, but immediately broke back against the veteran German player, who reached the quarter-finals at the All England club seven years ago.

Djokovic will face American Denis Kudla in the second round after Kudla's 6-4 6-1 6-4 victory over Malek Jaziri.

The 15-times Grand Slam winner was thrilled with his victory as he chases a fifth title at the event.

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"It felt great. It's a sacred court. It has a very special place in my heart, in my career as well," said Djokovic, who is being coached by 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.

"As a youngster I wanted the most to play at Wimbledon and win it. I have been very blessed. The memories come back and it's a great feeling.

"First opening rounds are always tricky. If you get a quality opponent like Kohlschreiber who beat me earlier this year at Indian Wells. I know he's capable of some quality tennis. It was a great test for me, I won in straight sets but all three were pretty close."

After a few early wobbles Djokovic triumphed comfortably, perhaps buoyed by the presence of new coach Ivanisevic.

"He's someone I've always looked up to and we've been friends for a long time - though usually on the opposite side of the net," Djokovic said of Ivanisevic, who has come on board as part of his coaching team.

"He's coached lots of great players, so it's great to have him on my side. He's going to stay for sure through the first week then we'll see. It's a great pleasure to have such a champion and hopefully we can have a long collaboration."

Djokovic, 32, came into the tournament having decided not to play a grass-court warm-up event and he must have been a little edgy having lost to Kohlschreiber in straight sets on the hard courts of Indian Wells earlier this year. For a man not so well known outside tennis circles, 35-year-old Kohlschreiber has a long, if not particularly distinguished, career.

This Wimbledon was his 60th grand slam event - putting him joint-ninth in the open-era on the appearances list. It was also his 15th successive Wimbledon, but Monday's two-hour show marked the ninth time he had failed to get past the first round.

The champion made an inauspicious start, double-faulting his first serve en route to being broken, but quickly found his feet to reel off the next four games and win the first set 6-3.

Kohlschreiber found his length with more consistency in the second and the two traded heavy blows in crowd-pleasing rallies not often seen these days on the grass.

At 4-4 the German saved three break points - the last courtesy of a successful challenge - only to drop his next service game as Djokovic served out for 7-5 and a two-set lead.

The early stages of the third set were also entertainingly well-fought, with both men nailing the baseline with huge power until Djokovic really found his serving rhythm to take command and wrap up the match by taking it 6-3.

"It felt great, it's the sacred court, the cradle of our sport and it has a special place in my heart and my career," Djokovic said.

"Opening round matches are always tricky, he has a lot of experience and beat me this year. I know he can play good quality tennis, he takes the ball early, so it was a great test for me and all three sets were pretty close."