Djokovic downs Ward on tough day for Brits
Djokovic streaked to a 6-0 3-0 lead before the British wildcard found his way back into the second set, spurred on by home support on Centre Court.
However, Djokovic, who has not dropped a set in the opening round of the Grand Slam since the 2010 US Open, got the job done in straight sets, wrapping up a 6-0 7-6(3) 6-4 victory in two hours and three minutes.
“I honestly didn’t expect myself to start that well,” admitted the three-time champion. “I think it was just a matter of time when James would win his first game. Obviously as a home player he enjoyed a lot of support today, especially when he won his first game. That’s when the energy kind of shifted on his side. He felt huge relief obviously winning the first game.
“Maybe I dropped the concentration a little bit, but credit to him for serving well. But the first part of the match was almost flawless, so I’m very pleased with the way I started Wimbledon.”
For Ward, it was a memorable experience, even if the result didn’t go his way.
“It was an unbelievable day,” said the British No.5. “I’ve spent a bit of time at Wimbledon. Now I’m a member and I’ve been out on that court when no-one’s around, just to have a look.
“When it’s full up and everyone is cheering for you, and you’re playing the world No.1, it’s a day you remember for the rest of your life. I’m proud of my efforts. I just didn’t want to get back home tonight and regret anything.“
Djokovic may have had a second British opponent in as many matches, but the top seed will face world No.55 Adrian Mannarino in the second round after the Frenchman defeated British No.3 Kyle Edmund 6-2 7-5 6-4.
Ward and Edmund were among eight British players in action on Monday, and by the end of the day there was just two left, and one of them the most unlikely of them all.
British No.23 Marcus Willis kept his Wimbledon fairytale alive with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis. The world No.706 – who had to win six matches just to qualify for the main draw – will now meet Roger Federer in the second round.
Dan Evans defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-7(6) 7-6(7) 7-5, but there were defeats for Brydan Klein and Alexander Ward to Nicolas Mahut and David Goffin respectively.
“I couldn’t believe [the draw]. It was extremely tough,” Klein said. “I think most of us weren’t too happy with our draws. Looking at some of the other people I could have got, mine was quite fortunate, actually, considering James [Ward] got Djokovic and Liam [Broady] got Andy. You have to play who you’re drawn against. Unfortunately it hasn’t been a great year for the wildcards.”
In the women’s draw world No.283 Laura Robson was unable to pull off a scalp against Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber as the No.4 seed won 6-2 6-2, while British No.3 Naomi Broady fell 6-2 6-3 to No.17 seed Elina Svitolina.
Andy Murray, Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Aljaz Bedene begin their Wimbledon campaigns on Tuesday.
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