Mats Wilander believes Novak Djokovic plays the best grass-court defence since Roger Federer, and praised his “flawless” second-round performance against Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Djokovic, who is bidding to win Wimbledon for a seventh time, swept past Kokkinakis for the loss of just seven games.
It was a vastly-improved showing from Djokovic, who struggled for fluency in his first-round match against Kwon Soon-woo before coming through in four sets.
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“The thing that I think Novak does better than anybody on the grass court is defend because it’s not easy to defend on a grass court,” former world No. 1 Wilander told Eurosport.
“Roger Federer, of course, was brilliant at it but in a different way. Novak defends in the corner but he still puts something on the shot every time. It’s amazing how he can move.
"It’s amazing that he trusts his footing so much on a grass court. It’s easy to move like he does on a clay court and a hard court ‒ for him, not for us ‒ but on a grass court, the fact that he’s able to move like that, it says everything about his balance, about his flexibility and about his willingness to never stop moving.
“He played really well, and in his own words [in his on-court interview], he could hardly believe how much he improved in two days. The trajectory is pointing in the right direction.
“He can play better than he did today but the question is, does he have to? He moved very well today and I liked the way he hit his backhand. He was trying to take the backhand early and he was trying to flatten it out and move Kokkinakis around the court.
“That was a flawless performance really, except for the break point he faced in the last game."
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Djokovic will next face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic after he beat Alejandro Tabilo in four sets.
Wilander was impressed with the way Djokovic served against Kokkinakis.
The 20-time Grand Slam singles champion only faced one break point late in the match and won 82 per cent of first-serve points.
“It’s not the hardest serve but it’s very consistent, he hits the spot pretty much all the time," said Wilander.
“If you remember when Novak started playing he was struggling with his serve a little bit. His right elbow was quite low, he was struggling with the toss as well at times. Like he said today, it was quite windy or swirly, so for him to come out and serve that well, it was very impressive.
“Probably the shot that any player has improved the most is Novak’s serve because it’s a serious weapon today. He doesn’t need it to be perfect to win Grand Slam tournaments but it’s a whole lot easier when you serve well.”
Kokkinakis was playing in the Wimbledon main draw for the first time since 2017 following several injuries.
"He got a rough start," said Wilander. "A 6-1 first set is never easy, especially on the Centre Court at Wimbledon against maybe the greatest player of all time."
Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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