Djokovic avoids shock as Centre Court comes back to life

Tuesday, 29 June 2021 01:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

LONDON, REUTERS: Defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame an early fright to fend off British teenager Jack Draper 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 and launch his quest for a sixth title as Wimbledon returned after a two-year absence on Monday.

The first match on Centre Court since Djokovic’s nailbiting victory over Roger Federer in the 2019 final -- 716 days ago -- was classic David versus Goliath material.

And while there was to be no fairytale Grand Slam debut for 19-year-old Draper, the match proved the perfect way to bring Centre Court back to life after the enforced silence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Only 7,500 fans were permitted on Centre Court in line with the 50% cap on attendance, but they let out a mighty roar as Draper won his first point.

Djokovic has never lost a Grand Slam match to a player ranked as low as world number 253 Draper, but looked a little stunned as he struggled to find his footing on the greasy turf and contain the fearless hitting of the Briton.

Grand Slam main draw debutant Draper broke serve in the third game and made a mockery of his inexperience as he saved all the break points he faced on his way to taking the opening set off the Serb contesting his 65th major.


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