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Djokovic defeats Kohlschreiber to begin Wimbledon title defence

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Novak Djokovic opened the defence of his Wimbledon title with a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber. The Serbian was not at his imperious best but breaks of serve at the latter stages of each set saw him navigate through a potentially tricky encounter against the German, to progress into the second round.

In the opening set, Djokovic quickly established a 2-0 lead, but Kohlschreiber swiftly responded to level the score and even had break points to surge further ahead at 3-3. Both players failed to capitalise on their opportunities as Djokovic was producing a few uncharacteristic errors, but the world number one was good enough to edge ahead for 5-4. The German had played very well so far, but in the tenth game of the set, a series of double faults proved to be too costly for Kohlschreiber and a netted backhand sealed a tight first set to the Serbian.

The second set was similarly close, with both players holding serve relatively comfortably. However, Djokovic once again looked to pressurise Kohlschreiber at 5-4, and the Serbian’s impeccable returning kept him within touching distance of a two set lead. The defending champion crafted a set point, as the German was forced into a netted slice due to a deep Djokovic groundstroke, and a scintillating backhand winner clinched the second set in style for the world number one.

Djokovic appeared to be marching towards the second round when he broke Kohlschreiber early in the third set, but a loose game from the Serbian handed back the advantage, and the German eventually drew level at 3-3. But, in a repeat of the last two sets, Kohlschreiber was again in danger 5-4 down, and Djokovic finally completed the victory when his opponent planted a forehand wide.

The defending champion will go on to face Jarkko Nieminen in the second round, as the Finn outlasted Lleyton Hewitt in five sets. With this loss, it means that the Australian, who had won the event in 2002, has made his final appearance at SW19.

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In the other matches, Kei Nishikori battled past Simone Bolelli 6-3 6-7 6-2 3-6 6-3 in a repeat of their encounter last year despite being in some discomfort with a calf injury, but Stanislas Wawrinka was rarely untroubled in his 6-2 7-5 7-6 victory over Joao Sousa. Also, last year’s semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov eased past Federico Delbonis 6-3 6-0 6-4.

However, there was mixed fortunes for the British players as Liam Broady impressively fought back from two set sets down to defeat Marinko Matosevic in five sets, but on the women’s side, Johanna Konta lost to Maria Sharapova. In addition, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka both moved through to the second round following straight set wins.

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