Novak Djokovic successfully began his bid to become the first back to back Wimbledon champion since Roger Federer in 2007 after a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 victory against Juan Carlos Ferrero. The defending champion appeared to be nervous, though, in the early stages of the match as he hit uncharacteristic unforced errors.
After falling to Rafael Nadal in the finals of the French Open two weeks ago, Djokovic opted to rest and skipped a grass-court warm-up event.
In the opening games I missed some overheads and I was nervous, it's normal. I haven't played an official match on grass for 12 months, Djokovic noted.
His opponent, Ferrero, was a world No.1 nine years ago following his 2003 French Open victory. However, grass is the Spaniard's least favorite surface.
Ferrero started the match playing consistently from the baseline. He retrieved well while Djokovic sprayed a few early unforced errors.
Djokovic eventually found his rhythm and began playing more aggressively. With a consistent flow of winners and aces, Djokovic was able to take the first set in 32 minutes. After winning the first set, Djokovic served more effectively, moved Ferrero around the court more, and hit fewer unforced errors, demonstrating to spectators why he has been able to win three of the last four grand Slams. Djokovic took the second set 6-3.
Meanwhile, Djokovic's improved play caused Ferrero to look more uncomfortable on the quick surface, allowing the Serb to rush to a 5-0 lead in the third set.
The third set saw Djokovic commit only five unforced errors and hit ten winners and seven aces. He finished the match with his 13th ace, and received a standing ovation from the London crowd.
While the defending champion did not demonstrate his best tennis, his game dramatically improved as the match progressed. He knows that he must commit fewer unforced errors and remain aggressive as the tournament continues.
After the match, Djokovic said it is a unique feeling to play as defending champion in the opening Centre Court match.
You feel the tradition and history...This is the most respected tournament in the world, Centre Court feels like a theatre, the crowd have great knowledge about tennis, he said.
Djokovic's next opponent is Ryan Harrison, a 20-year-old American.