Novak Djokovic on Monday became the first player to win 80 matches at all four Grand Slams as he made a successful start to his Wimbledon title defense, while teenage star Carlos Alcaraz battled over five sets to make the second round.
Six-time champion and top seed Djokovic saw off South Korea’s Kwon Soo-woo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam winner was made to work after falling a break down in the opening two sets against his 81st-ranked opponent.
“Now we have got to 80 wins, let’s get to 100,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic, 35, is attempting to win a fourth successive Wimbledon title and join a select group. In the Open era, only Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have managed such a streak at the All England Club.
Next up for Djokovic is Thanasi Kokkanikis.
Alcaraz, a potential quarter-final opponent for Djokovic, came back from two sets to one down to defeat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
The 19-year-old fired 30 aces and 73 winners in a dazzling display of shot-making to win 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.
“Last year, I played five sets in the first round here as well, so this shows how much I like grass,” Alcaraz said jokingly.
Andy Murray also made it through, coming from a set down to see off Australia’s James Duckworth 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Murray has defended using an underarm serve, saying it was a legitimate way to make opponents think twice before standing too deep to return serve.
The two-time Wimbledon champion used the shot in the third set of his victory over Duckworth on Centre Court, winning the point despite the Australian scrambling to get the ball back over the net.
“He changed his return position, that’s why I did it,” the Scot told reporters. “He was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two meters further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm serve in.”
Murray said the underarm serve might become more popular as players retreat further behind the baseline to raise their chances of getting a decent return on big serves.
“I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have,” he said. “Certainly more and more players have started returning from further, further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return.”
“The underarm serve is a way of saying: ‘If you’re going to step back there, then I’m going to possibly throw that in,’” Murray said. “Tactically it’s a smart play.”
Around two hours of play was lost on Monday due to rain — and 10 matches canceled — but that did not faze new women’s world No. 2 Ons Jabeur.
The Tunisian, a quarter-finalist last year, eased past Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund 6-1, 6-3 in just 54 minutes under the Court One roof.
World No. 3 Anett Kontaveit began her bid to reach the second week for the first time with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Bernarda Pera of the US.
Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins was the day’s biggest casualty as the seventh-seeded American was knocked out by Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.
The world No. 66 clawed back from a break down in the final set to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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