Novak Djokovic eases to opening Wimbledon win after farcical delay

Novak Djokovic eases to opening Wimbledon win after farcical delay

Novak Djokovic eased into the second round of Wimbledon amid farcical scenes on Centre Court.

The four-time defending champion defeated Argentinian debutant Pedro Cachin 6-3 6-3 7-6 (4) but the clash was delayed for nearly an hour and a half after the first set because of a damp court despite the roof being deployed.

Djokovic had begun to complain about the surface but officials waited until the end of the set to cover the court, which proved to be a major error.

Jelena and Stefan Djokovic during the lengthy delay
Novak Djokovic’s wife Jelena and son Stefan wait during the lengthy delay (Zac Goodwin/PA)

While play resumed under the roof on Court One, Djokovic and Cachin came out to inspect the court with referee Gerry Armstrong, but it was clear the world number two in particular was not happy.

Playing in his first official match on the surface since last year, it was no surprise that Djokovic, who described trying to move on grass in the early stages of the tournament as “like walking on eggs”, was being extremely cautious.

The Serbian maintained good humour about the situation and re-emerged with a towel, which he proceeded to rub on the court to laughter from the crowd, before members of the ground staff used leaf blowers to try to dry the surface.

Ground staff use leaf blowers to attempt to dry the grass on Centre Court
Ground staff use leaf blowers to attempt to dry the grass on Centre Court (Zac Goodwin/PA)

But it was not until the skies cleared and the roof was opened again that play was able to resume, rendering the expensive covering redundant.

Had it not been for the delay, this would have been pretty much the ideal start to Djokovic’s campaign for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title and eighth Wimbledon crown.

Cachin only played his first tour-level match on grass in Majorca last week and was never likely to prove too much of a test.

There was some early rust from Djokovic, who double-faulted to give Cachin a break for 2-1, but he hit straight back and manoeuvred himself into a 5-3 lead.

Novak Djokovic plays a low backhand
Novak Djokovic plays a low backhand volley (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Djokovic is on a 28-match winning streak on grass having not lost on the surface since a final defeat at Queen’s Club back in 2018.

He convincingly won the second set but Cachin earned applause from his opponent for his efforts in the third, which he pushed to a tie-break.

Djokovic had won all his tie-breaks at the French Open without making a single unforced error. That streak ended with a double fault here, and he netted a backhand on his first match point, but he took his third chance, winning it 7-4.

Stiffer tests will surely await, perhaps in the second round against Australian grass-court lover Jordan Thompson, but the defending champion is off and running.