Novak Djokovic, playing on the Supreme Court, sat longer than he imagined on day one. As always with every flick of his racket Djokovic was marked, with every match won and every match left behind, the longest passage in the tennis history book was written.
Pedro Cachin, the unseeded player from Argentina, met the author in an environment that could not have been more hostile. He may have taken comfort in that. It was Cachin’s debut at Wimbledon, his first match on Center Court with its temperamental bounces and slips, and his first meeting with Djokovic.
But the bare facts show that the couple came out at 13.30 with a subsequent rain shower at 14.07. The roof was closed, but the men arrived with giant dryers that blew the grass and the players came off the field. At 17:18, the contest ended with Djokovic claiming the third match point 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4). Safe passage to the second round added to a remarkable record that gets sillier after the fight.
With the covers on and fans looking up at the sky and the expression of Djokovic’s coach, former winner Goran Ivanisevic, failing to glow, somber and anxious, it was learned that the defending champion had not lost at Wimbledon since the 12th. July 2017 or 2,182 days.
The defeat was that year’s quarter-final, when Djokovic was forced to retire against Tomas Berdych at 7-6, 2-0. He then won the title in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, before winning it again in 2021 and 2022.
The Serb has not lost a complete match since the year before Berdych in 2016 in a shock defeat to Sam Querrey on Court One, and has not lost on Center Court for 10 years. His last defeat there was in the 2013 final when Andy Murray beat him.
Djokovic may never win the most delightful personality award – even if he tries hard – but his record at the All-England Club is becoming untouchable. If he wins all seven matches and the title to match Roger Federer’s eight, he will also become the oldest player to win men’s singles in the Open Era.
“A little bit of a strange circumstance with the roof closed and we’re delaying the match for almost an hour and a half,” Djokovic said. “It was very strange that for more than an hour the situation did not change for the better at all. I think they are tracking right now. I think they will probably answer this question better for you, whether it’s the air conditioning, it was pretty humid so that didn’t help. It was a solid start though.”
Fourth seed Casper Ruud is also through. The Norwegian, who has never won a Grand Slam but has appeared in two French Open finals and one US Open final in the past two years, won in four sets over France’s Laurent Lokoli.
Ruud, who keeps a relatively low profile given his lofty world ranking, easily won the first 6-1 before the French qualifier grabbed the second set 7-5 to level the tie. A less compromised 6-4, 6-3 to finish the match put him comfortably into the second round.
Already the 24-year-old has equaled his second round on grass in 2021 and 2022. Afterwards he said he had felt nervous. “Well, I just think this place is kind of special,” Ruud said. “My dad and I, we don’t have the best record at Wimbledon (smiling). Every time we can win, it’s big for the family.”
His father Christian was also a former tennis player who turned professional in 1991. He achieved a career-high singles world ranking of 39 in 1995, and reached the fourth round of the 1997 Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the 1997 Monte Carlo Masters. He retired in 2001 and was the highest-ranked Norwegian male player of all time on the ATP Tour until his son Casper overtook him in February 2020.
The favorite clay court player is likely to line up again on one of the show courts as he faces plucky Briton Liam Broady in the next round. But like many eyes at Wimbledon, they are on Djokovic.
“I think he’s just taken, like, defensive tennis to a new level,” Ruud said. “The way he moves and the way he’s able to counterpunch and counterattack from deep, out to the side of the court and it’s just really hard to hit winners against him because he moves well , and he gets to certain shots and balls. that you don’t think he’s going to.”
Russian Andrey Rublev is also still in the mix with a first-round win over Australia’s Max Purcell. Ranked number seven in the world, Rublev broke through without major discomfort 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
“Of course I was nervous,” said the flaming red-haired 25-year-old. “The first game always is. You don’t know what to expect. Like I said, after the practice courts, the game is a little different. So you stress a little more. Also, it was windy.”
Although inside the top 10 players, Rublev has never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of any of the Grand Slams, with his best at Wimbledon in the fourth round in 2021.