Novak Djokovic felt the support after a tough four set victory over Kwon
Ons Jabeur spoke about belief and future goals after winning comfortably
Anett Kontaveit gave an update on her health after returning to winning ways
LONDON, ENGLAND – Day one of Wimbledon brought lots of talking points as Novak Djokovic struggled through his opening round match, while Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit addresses belief and health respectively after their victories.
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Djokovic talks crowd and rivals after difficult opening round
We start our day one talking points with the defending Men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic who had the honour of opening Centre Court once again. The world number one took on Soonwoo Kwon who had a 1-2 win-loss record at Wimbledon. However the South Korean didn’t play like it as he went up an early break in the opening set and despite losing five games in a row, won the second set with some aggressive tennis and effective point construction.
However Djokovic did what all great champions do and that’s find a way to win as he edged to the next two sets to claim a four set victory. It’s the second year in a row that Djokovic has won his opening match in four sets after losing the opening set to Jack Draperlast year. Speaking after the match Djokovic praised Kwon and admitted it was a difficult contest:
“I’m pleased with the win today against an opponent that I felt was feeling the ball pretty well from the baseline,” Djokovic said in his press conference.
“It was really difficult to get past him the ball. He was always there. He was playing flat. Just ball was coming fast and low. He really made me work for the win. Like really with any other surface, particularly on grass, you just need to play more matches in order to get that match play. Because it’s completely different playing points at the practice session and walking out on the Centre Court and actually playing an official match, nerves kick in and everything that you are going through, of course.
“Early rounds, your opponents don’t have much to lose so they’re going to go for it more, believing they can get the scalp. Of course from your side you’re trying to get into groove. I did not have any lead-up tournaments or preparation matches, official match, prior to Wimbledon.”
It’s expected that Djokovic will play better with each match and that’s what he will aim to do against Thanasi Kokkinakis on Wednesday. Djokovic also addressed the crowd and one of his nearest challengers for the title Matteo Berrettini. Djokovic hasn’t always felt the love from the crowd due to his vaccination status and other factors but he wasn’t complaining about that today:
“I was very pleasantly surprised, I mean, in a positive way,” Djokovic said about the Centre Court crowd.
“I felt support. Of course, the crowd was engaged in the match. They supported both players. I thought they were very fair to me. I mean, he (Berrettini) is definitely top two, three players in the world on grass in the last three years. I mean, his results are testament to that.
“He has made amazing comeback after a few months’ absence from the tour with an injury. To win the way he did in Germany and in Queen’s is very impressive. It doesn’t surprise me much because we know that he has got big game, big weapon, serve, forehand. He’s got a very good touch. He will say better, but probably this is his favorite surface. For his game it’s the most suitable surface.”
Berrettini will get his campaign underway first on Court One against Cristian Garin tomorrow.
After her early Roland Garros exit, it felt good for Ons Jabeur today to only drop four games as she defeated Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund in her opening round on Court One. Having won the Berlin title a couple of weeks ago, Jabeur feels confident again and the Tunisian spoke about the topic of belief and how the world number one ranking is in her sights.
“In general I believe if you put something in your mind, you can achieve it no matter what people is talking about you,” Jabeur claimed.
“If you’re mentally strong, you can do anything. That’s honestly the message I’m trying to send every time. I’m someone from Tunisia, nobody even believed that I could be here, and here I am talking to you. Now I feel like I deserve it even more. I feel like I even gained and won matches to prove myself on this level. Yeah, I do feel more confident. I do feel like I deserve to be in this level. Hopefully next step will be No. 1.
“But the most important thing, I want to have the level to be No. 1. I don’t just want to be No. 1 like that, put a lot of pressure on myself. I mean, everybody is looking forward to win against No. 1. I want to be, like, really deserve that spot. Hopefully I can be the level that Iga is playing right now.”
Another player who is looking to reach the heights of Iga Swiatek is Anett Kontaveit who returned to the tour after suffering symptoms of long COVID. Bearing that in mind it would have been a relief to the Estonian to win in straight sets against Bernarda Pera after a tough couple of months. After the match Kontaveit gave a health update:
“I have had health issues recently and didn’t play any lead-up tournaments to Wimbledon,” Kontaveit told the press.
“I didn’t come into this tournament with a lot of confidence. But really excited to be playing again and really happy that I can compete here. It’s been getting a lot better. Like a month ago, I was really having a hard time. I really wouldn’t have come here if I wasn’t feeling like I could play a match, compete at the highest level. I’ve been feeling better. I mean, there’s some times I felt, like, dips in my energy from time to time. But I’ve been managing it, trying to prepare the best that I can, you know, take the most out of the situation I’m in.
“I think the biggest mistake I did for me was I tried to come back too soon for Rome and the French Open. So I think that set me back a little bit. I’ve been just really monitoring how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling too tired, just going with practices, off that.”
Kontaveit will now play German Jule Niemeier in the second round on Wednesday.
Jodie Burrage spoke about whether she felt nerves competing at her home slam and also following on from her great performance in Eastbourne. Burrage said nerves didn’t play a part in her defeat to Lesia Tsurenko:
“Beating Badosa was obviously one of the best matches in my career,” Burrage said.
“I don’t think it really had any effect on myself today. Yes, you’re always going to be nervous first round of a slam. I dealt with myself better than I did last year. Last year I didn’t deal with myself very well. Again, I’m taking learnings from that, and kind of put last week behind me. Every week is a fresh week. Just because you win a few matches one week doesn’t mean you’re going to win a few matches the next week.
“That’s one of the things I’ve learned over the last few weeks. Like, there’s highs and lows in tennis. It literally is high and then low. You want to try to keep level. That’s what I’m trying to do, and like I said, take the positives and the learnings from each one.”
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