Novak Djokovic began his bid on Monday to take on seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, with British Grand Slam title winners Andy Murray and Emma Radukanu also on the agenda for the opening day of Center Court. In the absence of banned Daniil Medvedev and injured Alexander Zverev, 20-time major winner Djokovic takes the top seed. The 35-year-old begins his title bid against defending champion South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo, world number 81. Djokovic has extra motivation this year as Wimbledon will be his last Slam of 2022.
His continued refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 means he will be barred from entering the United States for the US Open later this summer.
Also adding fuel to Djokovic’s fire is the chance to win a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and be in a select group.
In the Open era, only Bjorn Borg, Sampras and Roger Federer have managed to complete such a streak of dominance at the All England Club.
– ‘Dream to win’ –
“As a boy of seven, eight, I dreamed of winning Wimbledon and becoming number one,” Djokovic said.
“Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon was the first tennis match I’d ever seen on TV.”
After a canceled edition due to the pandemic in 2020 and a reduced capacity tournament last year, Wimbledon returned to full home crowds for 2022.
However, missing from the line-up are several Russian and Belarusian players who were banned after the invasion of Ukraine.
Along with Medvedev, world number eight Andrey Rublev is absent as are three of the top 20 women – Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina and two-time major winner and former number one Victoria Azarenka.
In retaliation for the ban, the ATP and WTA tours took away Wimbledon’s ranking points.
About 90 minutes of play was ruined due to rain on Monday, but world number two Ons Jabeur did not disappoint.
The Tunisian, a quarter-finalist in 2021, defeated Swedish qualifier Mirjam Björklund 6-1, 6-3 in just 54 minutes under the roof of Court One.
“Today I achieved my highest ranking and leaving just four games off is a great start to the tournament,” Jaboor said.
Murray, the 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon champion, is unseeded this year, but remains a dangerous floater in the draw.
She made it to the Stuttgart grass-court final earlier this month, before an abdominal injury ruled her out of Queens.
Murray will take on 74th-ranked James Duckworth of Australia, who has yet to win the main tour in 2022.
However, the 30-year-old did make the third round at Wimbledon in 2021.
Duckworth’s career was marred by the need for nine surgeries over the past decade.
2021 US Open champion Radukanu is playing Wimbledon for the first time as a Grand Slam winner.
She made the fourth round last year but has struggled with inconsistent form since her win in New York.
– ‘ready to go’ –
The 19-year-old is battling a side strain but insists she is “ready to go” against 46th-ranked Alison Van Uytwank. This Belgian player made the last 16 four years ago.
Also in action on day one are French Open runner-up and third seed Casper Roode.
Norway will start with Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.
Rudd has lost in the first round in his two appearances in the tournament.
He lost to world number 180 Ryan Penniston at Queen’s in his only grass-court run this summer.
Spain’s 19-year-old and fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz will face Germany’s Jan-Lenard Struff.
Women’s second seed Annette Kontaveit faces United States’ Bernarda Pera as the Estonian tries to reach the second week of Wimbledon for the first time.
Despite his highest ranking of three in the world, the 26-year-old Kontaveit has a mediocre record at the Slam, having made it to the quarterfinals just once in 28 matches.
Eight-time champion Roger Federer is missing Wimbledon after recovering from knee surgery.
However, Serena Williams will play her first singles match since last year’s championship as she again bids to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.
The American star, a seven-time champion at Wimbledon, began her campaign on Tuesday like Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard has already collected the Australian Open and French Open this year to halve himself in the first men’s calendar Grand Slam since 1969.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics mentioned in this article