The two big guns in the men’s draw – Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – were scheduled to play one after the other on Center Court on Tuesday at Wimbledon. Both have different stories going into the tournament – Federer is fresh and has had a strong year; Djokovic has struggled significantly but was on the right path to win Eastbourne last week. However, their sojourn at Wimbledon got off on a similar note – Djokovic needed 40 minutes to reach the second round and Federer needed 44 minutes. Both had won the opening set and were in command in the second before their opponents walked up to the net and called it quits.
For Djokovic, Martin Klizan trailed 3-6, 0-2 before retiring and for Federer it was Alexandr Dolgopolov at 3-6, 0-3. Klizan had called for the trainer at the change of ends after the end of the first set but he couldn’t prolong things for much long. Post the win, Djokovic had sympathy and positive words for Klizan. He said, “It was great to be back on Centre Court. It’s the cradle of the tennis history and it’s a special feeling to walk on. It brings back many memories. It’s nice to be back but you never like to end a match this way,” said the Serbian. “He had issues walking on to court. I tried to focus on my game plan, I was serving well and when it mattered I made a break. But you could see he wasn’t moving. I’m sure he didn’t want to finish this way. It’s Wimbledon and it’s a big tournament. I wish him all the best,” he added.
Federer’s win had two personal milestones with one of them etching his name in record books. The owner of seven Wimbledon titles and 18 Grand Slam trophies in all improved to 85-11 for his career at Wimbledon. That moved him one win ahead of Jimmy Connors for most victories in the grass-court major in the Open era, which began in 1968. In terms of personal accolades, Federer moved past 10,000 career aces to become the third player with over ten thousand aces; he trails Ivo Karlovic and now-retired Goran Ivanisevic in the list.
Earlier, last year’s Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic played a full match – unlike Federer and Djokovic – to beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(5) 6-2 7-6(4). The Canadian made his mark by banging down the fastest serve of the tournament so far at 141 mph. Despite the straight sets win, the Canadian’s lack of match practice showed at times. “Just not having that constant back-to-back match play, going through those situations many times over, I think that’s where it sort of showed,” Raonic told reporters. “I’m happy with how that got better. I just have to pay a little bit more attention, be more aware of it, have more discipline. It doesn’t come as easy.”
Juan Martin del Potro needed seven match points, but he also advanced, beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 (2), 6-4.